Israel will release prisoners as scheduled

Oct. 9, 2013 at 7:05 AM
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JERUSALEM, Oct. 9 (UPI) -- Israel rejected Palestinian and American requests to release a second batch of Palestinian prisoners jailed in Israel ahead of schedule, officials said.

Israel agreed as part of the U.S.-brokered peace talks with the Palestinians to release 104 Palestinian prisoners jailed before the 1993 Oslo Accords in four batches during the nine-month negotiation process.

The first batch of 26 prisoners was released in August, shortly after talks began. The second prisoner release is scheduled for Oct. 29, Haaretz and The Times of Israel reported.

The Palestinians requested the second prisoner release be moved forward to coincide with the Feast of Sacrifice -- the Muslim holiday Eid al-Adha -- which starts Sunday, but Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu refused, Haaretz said.

Netanyahu is facing harsh opposition from right-wing members in the government who demanded he end the prisoner release after two Israeli soldiers were killed by alleged Palestinian terrorists and a recent attack on a 9-year old girl in Psagot.

The Israeli leader said the prisoner release will go ahead as scheduled, not earlier, senior officials told the newspaper.

At a recent meeting, Netanyahu's special envoy Itzhak Molcho met with U.S. envoy Martin Indyk and Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat and informed them Netanyahu will honor his commitment to release the second batch of prisoners as planned, Haaretz said.

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