Saeb Erekat, member of the Fatah Central Committee and the Palestinian Authority’s chief negotiator, on Monday called on the international community to immediately intervene to release all Palestinian Authority Arab prisoners currently in Israeli jails.
According to a press release published by his office and quoted by the PA-based WAFA news agency, Erekat called for the release of 25 members of the Palestinian Legislative Council, prisoners arrested before May of 1994, women, children, the ill and senior prisoners.
Erekat, who has recently been conducting negotiations in Amman with Israeli negotiator Yitzchak Molcho, appears to have called for the release of these terrorists from Israeli prisons, regardless of whom they murdered. His statement on Monday came after he used the meeting with Molcho to demand that Israel release Hamas lawmaker Aziz Duwaik, parliamentary speaker for the Palestinian Legislative Council.
Duwaik was arrested at a security checkpoint near Ramallah on Thursday. Israel alleges that he was involved in terror activities.
Erekat also restated the January 26 deadline set by the Quartet for the parties to present proposals on security and borders in order to return to the negotiations table, adding that Israel would close the door to resuming final status negotiations if it did not uphold its obligations.
Although he did not specify which obligations he was referring to, he likely meant the PA’s constant demands that Israel release all Arab terrorists held in Israeli prisons, agree to the pre-1967 lines as borders for a future PA state, and freeze construction in Judea, Samaria, and east Jerusalem, before talks resume.
Last week, the PA rejected a request by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to extend the deadline, saying that extending the deadline is “useless” because “Israel doesn’t appear to be serious, so time extension will not add any value to the status quo.”
Netanyahu stated last week that PA officials “have no interest in restarting peace negotiations.”
“For the last three years, the Palestinians have refused to enter negotiations, thinking they could impose preconditions upon us,” Netanyahu told Israeli lawmakers in a closed parliamentary meeting, referring to the ever-changing demands exemplified by chief negotiator Erekat's statement.