Will never be peace! you don’t negotiate with evil! sorry doesn’t work
JERUSALEM (TheBlaze/AP) —
A divided Israeli Cabinet agreed Sunday to release 104 long-term Palestinian prisoners convicted of deadly attacks, clearing a hurdle toward resuming Mideast peace talks and giving U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry his first concrete achievement after months of shuttle diplomacy.
The U.S. said preliminary talks would begin Monday. Release of the prisoners is linked to progress in the talks, meaning many could well remain behind bars.
Neither side appeared upbeat, despite the possibility of renewed talks. Each has blamed the other for the lack of success in 20 years of negotiations, and Kerry’s success so far has been only to get the parties back to the table.
The New York Times notes that the prisoner release is an “unpopular move with many Israelis, but one that the Palestinian leadership has insisted upon. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu worked over the weekend to convince Israelis that a resumption of the peace process was a vital Israeli interest.”“This moment is not easy for me,” Netanyahu said, according to a statement from his office, the Times reported. “It is not easy for the ministers. It is not easy especially for the families, the bereaved families, whose heart I understand. But there are moments in which tough decisions must be made for the good of the country, and this is one of those moments.”
The Times adds that ” scores of Israeli protesters gathered outside the prime minister’s office, including people whose relatives were killed in terrorist acts. The protesters carried signs bearing the names and portraits of some of the victims.”
“It rips our heart out that they are aiding and abetting the terrorists,” said Yehudit Tayar, one of the protesters, the Times notes.
The prisoner release, approved 13-7 with two abstentions, is a key part of the Kerry-brokered deal.
Next, Israeli and Palestinian teams meet in Washington on Monday, the State Department spokeswoman said, to prepare for six to nine months of negotiations on setting up a Palestinian state alongside Israel.
The State Department said Kerry called Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and invited them to send teams to Washington.
State Department spokeswoman Jan Psaki said in a statement that talks would begin Monday evening and continue Tuesday. It said the talks would “serve as an opportunity to develop a procedural work plan for how the parties can proceed with the negotiations in the coming months.”
Netanyahu, seeking to overcome stiff opposition from ultra-nationalists, told his Cabinet that “resuming the political process at this time is important for Israel,” noting that any deal would be submitted to a national referendum.
The chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat, welcomed the vote on the prisoners as a “step toward peace,” one he said is long overdue.
Negotiators made progress in previous rounds, and the outlines of a deal have emerged – a Palestinian state in most of the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem, lands captured by Israel in 1967, with border adjustments to enable Israel to annex land with a majority of nearly 600,000 settlers.
(Related: Palestinian Minister Hints Peace Deal Would Be Temporary Arrangement Before Conquering Israel Outright)
Those negotiations broke down before the sides could tackle the most explosive issues, a partition of Jerusalem and the fate of Palestinian refugees and their descendants, now several million people.
Abbas remains leery of negotiating with Netanyahu, fearing any offer made by the hard-liner would fall far short of Palestinian demands, so he has insisted on a clear framework for negotiations.Keep Reading