PLO Source: Promise to Free Jailed Israeli Arabs Crucial

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat says decision 14 years late, as in 1999 Israel agreed to free all the prisoners held from before the signing of the Oslo Accords.

Amira Hass
Amira Hass
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Amira Hass
Amira Hass

After the cabinet decision to release Palestinian prisoners, the Palestinian delegation to the peace talks will leave for Washington as planned for talks with Israel, which are scheduled to start Monday night.

When Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hesitated on Sunday morning over freeing Israeli Arab prisoners, the Palestinian Authority demanded and received an American promise that there had been no changes in previous agreements and that the entire group of 104 prisoners the Palestinians demanded would be released, a senior Palestine Liberation Organization official told Haaretz. As a result, the PLO's negotiations department decided not to worry about the announcement that the release of Israeli Arab citizens would be brought up for a separate vote, and instead views the matter merely as a tactical maneuver on Netanyahu's part.

Long-time Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, who is supposed to leave Monday for Washington with his Fatah colleague Mohammed Shtayyeh, said the decision was 14 years late, as in 1999 Israel had agreed to free all the prisoners held from before the 1993 signing of the Oslo Accords.

In Ramallah on Sunday, Palestinian police dispersed a demonstration by some 200 activists of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, who were protesting the renewal of the talks. Police beat men and women with clubs, injuring dozens and sending a number of them to the hospital, according to a press release from the Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association. Palestinian police came to the hospital and arrested three of the injured and another uninjured demonstrator. Palestinian news agency Maan reported three demonstrators were hurt along with four policemen, one of whom was hit in the face by a rock.

John Kerry, left, and Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat ahead of a meeting with Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, June 30, 2013.Credit: AP

Click the alert icon to follow topics:



Automatic approval of subscriber comments.
From $1 for the first month

Already signed up? LOG IN


Charles Lindbergh addressing an America First Committee rally on October 3, 1941.

Ken Burns’ Brilliant ‘The U.S. and the Holocaust’ Has Only One Problem

The projected rise in sea level on a beach in Haifa over the next 30 years.

Facing Rapid Rise in Sea Levels, Israel Could Lose Large Parts of Its Coastline by 2050

Tal Dilian.

As Israel Reins in Its Cyberarms Industry, an Ex-intel Officer Is Building a New Empire

Queen Elizabeth II, King Charles III and a British synagogue.

How the Queen’s Death Changes British Jewry’s Most Distinctive Prayer

Newly appointed Israeli ambassador to Chile, Gil Artzyeli, poses for a group picture alongside Rabbi Yonatan Szewkis, Chilean deputy Helia Molina and Gerardo Gorodischer, during a religious ceremony in a synagogue in Vina del Mar, Chile last week.

Chile Community Leaders 'Horrified' by Treatment of Israeli Envoy

Queen Elizabeth attends a ceremony at Windsor Castle, in June 2021.

Over 120 Countries, but Never Israel: Queen Elizabeth II's Unofficial Boycott