The Guardian reports: Israel has said it will release “heavyweight” Palestinian prisoners as part of an agreement to enter preliminary talks in Washington, with the aim of an eventual resumption of long-stalled peace negotiations.
Hours after the US secretary of state, John Kerry, announced that the two sides in the conflict had agreed to discuss terms for negotiations, Yuval Steiniz, Israel’s minister for international relations, said a prisoner release would be carried out in stages.
“I don’t want to give numbers but there will be heavyweight prisoners who have been in jail for tens of years,” he told Israel Radio. The release of long-serving prisoners has been a key Palestinian demand.
But Steinitz said Israel would balk at agreeing on the pre-1967 border as the parameter for territorial negotiations. “There is no chance we will agree to enter any negotiations that begin with defining territorial borders or concessions by Israel, nor a [settlement] construction freeze,” he said.
Kerry’s announcement of progress in his four-month mission to revive the Middle East peace process was delivered in Amman on Friday night after four months of intensive diplomacy. It received mixed interpretations. [Continue reading…]