Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

Israel to approve prisoner deal with Palestine

Netanyahu postponed the weekly meeting of ministers on Sunday by an hour to make sure he had majority support for the measure which he described as painful but necessary to help end nearly three years of diplomatic standstill between Israel and Palestine.

"This moment is not easy for me, is not easy for the cabinet ministers, and is not easy especially for the bereaved families, whose feelings I understand," Netanyahu said in broadcast at the start of the meeting, referring to families who have lost members in militant attacks. "But there are moments in which tough decisions must be made for the good of the nation and this is one of those moments," he said.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has demanded the release of prisoners held since before a 1993 interim peace accord took effect. Israel has jailed thousands more Palestinians since then, many for carrying out deadly attacks. The prisoner release would allow Netanyahu to sidestep other Palestinian demands, such as a halt to Jewish settlement expansion and a guarantee that negotiations over borders will be based on boundaries from before the 1967 Middle East war, when Israel captured the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem.

Israel wants to keep several settlement blocs and East Jerusalem, which it annexed as part of its capital in a move never recognised internationally, in any future deal. In an appeal for public support posted on his Facebook page on Saturday night, Netanyahu said the prisoners would be released in groups only after the negotiations – set to last at least nine months – begin. The 22-member cabinet was also scheduled to approve legislation that would require a referendum on any statehood deal reached with the Palestinians involving a withdrawal from land Israel captured in the 1967 war.

The US-brokered talks, expected to reconvene in Washington as early as Tuesday, broke down in late 2010 in a dispute over Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank, which Palestinians say denies them a viable state. Before the cabinet meeting, Netanyahu told ministers from his Likud party that Israel would pay a price if peace talks did not resume, according to one official who was there.

The latest diplomatic push follows months of intense shuttle diplomacy by US secretary of state John Kerry who said a week ago the groundwork had been laid for a breakthrough, while setting no specific date for talks to restart. Additional reporting by Ari Rabinovitch. Editing by Louise Ireland

Subscribe for R500/year

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them and get a 57% discount in your first year.

Related stories

WELCOME TO YOUR M&G

If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

Advertising

Subscribers only

Zondo commission: 10 unanswered questions

Zuma went to jail rather than testify. Some who did told blatant lies. Who decided Cabinet appointments and how much money was carried out of Saxonwold?

Local elections: Water tops the agenda in Limpopo’s dry villages

People in the Fetakgomo Tubatse local municipality, who have to collect water from Motse River, are backing independent candidates because they’re tired of parties’ election promises

More top stories

Zondo commission: 10 unanswered questions

Zuma went to jail rather than testify. Some who did told blatant lies. Who decided Cabinet appointments and how much money was carried out of Saxonwold?

Nigeria’s palm wine tappers face stiff competition

Large companies such as International Breweries and Nigerian Breweries are vying for the population’s drinking money

Covid-19 border closures hit Zimbabwe’s women traders hard

The past 18 months have been tough for women cross-border traders, who saw their income vanish when borders closed

Local elections: Water tops the agenda in Limpopo’s dry villages

People in the Fetakgomo Tubatse local municipality, who have to collect water from Motse River, are backing independent candidates because they’re tired of parties’ election promises
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×