JERUSALEM, July 5 (UPI) -- Work to transfer bodies to the Palestinian Authority was halted, partly the result of stalled talks on the release of an Israeli soldier, officials said.
Israeli leaders back-pedaled on releasing the bodies to the Palestinian Authority also to confirm the identities of the corpses, The Jerusalem Post reported.
Earlier Tuesday, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said he decided to suspend talks with the Palestinian Authority on the transfer of 84 bodies of deceased terrorists, listing as one reason talks on the return of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, captured in June 2006 by militants who crossed the border from Gaza into southern Israel.
"I postponed the discussion over the transfer of bodies in order to ensure that we transfer the correct bodies, after considerations in regard to Shalit and other issues," Barak said at a military exercise.
"[Discussions] with the Palestinians are being held on a number of issues, one of them being the transfer of bodies," Barack said. "Soon enough, there won't be anything left to transfer. On the one hand, we must consider removing the bodies from the temporary cemetery and to transfer them to [the Palestinians]. On the other hand, we must verify who we are transferring the bodies to and to consider withholding certain parts."
The decision to suspend discussions on the transfer arose apparently after two of the bodies were reportedly identified as leaders of Hamas, Haaretz reported.
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's national security adviser, Maj. Gen. Yaakov Amidror, said the prime minister's decision on the transfer was made "in principal without including names. … The Palestinians publicized the names. That is what they would like to have, not what we have agreed to give. No names or numbers came up. At no point was a transfer list approved."