Peace talks in crisis after latest PA-US meeting

Palestinians celebrate the third installment of the prisoner release by Israel at the presidential compound in Ramallah, December 31, 2013

Israeli-Palestinian peace talks are in crisis after the latest attempt to reconcile key differences failed.

Early Friday morning, a meeting between Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and American special envoy Martin Indyk on the scheduled fourth prisoner release ended without a breakthrough.

According to Ziad Abu Ein, director-general of the PA Ministry of Prisoners’ Affairs, the meeting concluded in deadlock. Abu Ein said Israel is still refusing to release a fourth and final group of longterm prisoners, a move that had been scheduled for this weekend, and has introduced new conditions for their release.

Abu Ein said Israel conditioned the release on the continuation of talks beyond the current end of April deadline, as well as several demands related to the framework agreement that Secretary of State John Kerry has been drafting as the basis for continued negotiations. Kerry met with Abbas in Amman earlier this week to try to resolve the crisis, without success.

Writing on his Facebook page, Abu Ein accused Israel of violating the agreement in which 104 prisoners are to be released in exchange for the PA not continuing its campaign against Israel and its bid for statehood via the UN and other international institutions.

“Israel says ‘yes’ only if the talks continue, and this represents a clear violation,” he charged. Israel has freed three groups totaling 78 prisoners, but balked at the final group because no deal has yet been done on extending the talks and because the PA is demanding that Israeli-Arab inmates be included in the group…

‘An agreement without Palestinian recognition of Israel as Jewish is not worth the paper it’s written on,’ says Yaakov Amidror

Related: The Palestinians “have not moved one inch” in their negotiating positions since 1994, while the Netanyahu government has made dramatic concessions unacknowledged by world opinion, Israel’s former national security adviser said on Thursday.

Speaking on a panel titled “Whither Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations?” organized by the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University, Yaakov Amidror compared Israel’s current offers to the Palestinians to those presented by former Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin to the Knesset on October 1995, a month before his assassination.

“Israel made huge steps towards the Palestinians, while the Palestinians — at the very least — did not budge an inch. In certain areas, they even moved backward,” Amidror said…

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