Hotovely: The Talks Will Lead Nowhere
Deputy Transportation Minister Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) predicted on Saturday night that the peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority will break down, adding that it’s only a matter of time until it happens.
"Kerry is still far from recording an achievement about the resumption of the talks,” said Hotovely. “The weak Palestinian leadership headed by Mahmoud Abbas has consistently refused to reach a peace agreement and rejected both Olmert's and Barak’s generous offers.”
She called on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu not to release terrorists as part of the negotiations.
"The current move will end with nothing. The question is only when. However, it would be a serious mistake to freeze construction and release security prisoners in exchange for empty moves,” said Hotovely.
US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Friday that Israeli and PA negotiators will meet in Washington in the near future after an agreement was reached on the basis to resume peace talks.
Netanyahu said on Saturday night that renewing negotiations is a "vital" Israeli interest.
"The resumption of the peace process is a vital strategic interest of the state of Israel," Netanyahu said in a statement.
"It is important on its own to try to bring an end to the conflict between us and the Palestinians, and is important because of the challenges facing us, especially from Iran and Syria," he said.
A PA leader told the Associated Press on Friday that Kerry’s plan to get Israel and the PA talking again involves getting Israel to release hundreds of terrorist prisoners.
Ahmed Majdalani said that Kerry has assured PA leaders that Israel would gradually free some 350 terrorists in the coming months. The prisoners would include some 100 men that were arrested over terrorist attacks carried out before the 1993 Oslo Accords. Israel has refused to free these terrorists in the past because many of them carried out some of the deadliest attacks against Israelis.
International Relations Minister Yuval Steinitz admitted during a cultural event on Saturday that Israel had agreed to release what he termed “heavy prisoners”.