PA Official: "Israel Agreed to Release Israeli Arabs"
Palestinian Authority (PA) Prisoner Minister Issa Karaka is continuing to push for the release of Israeli Arab - not just Palestinian Arab - terrorists, Channel 2 reports Sunday.
Karaka claimed that such a deal was pre-arranged, and told the Bethlehem-based Maan last week that Israel has agreed to release some Israeli Arab terrorists in the framework of the fourth round of prisoner release in March.
"Israel saw, even from the beginning of the talks, the list of inmates that we requested to be released and confirmed them." Karaka emphasized to the news agency. In exchange, he said, the PA has agreed to avoid filing international lawsuits against Israel so that talks could continue.
Karaka asserts the if Israel changes its decision, the PA will appeal to international organizations to ensure the expected release.
Palestinian Authority (PA) official Kadura Fares, chairman of the Prisoners' Affairs Union, claimed Tuesday that Israel obligated itself to release all the terrorists jailed before the Oslo Accords, including those with Israeli citizenship, as "gestures" to the peace talks.
"We received a promise from the beginning," Fares told Galei Tzahal (IDF Radio). "(Prime Minister Binyamin) Netanyahu gave his word to (US Secretary of State John) Kerry, and Kerry passed it on to us."
Fares's words echoed similar statements made by Israeli officials to Channel 2 last week, who claimed that Kerry "deceived" Israel by trying to secure the release of Israeli Arab terrorists as part of the deal.
The Prime Minister's Office denied the allegations, claiming "at no point did we agree on to release Israeli Arab" terrorists.
Israel released 26 more convicted Palestinian Arab terrorists on Monday, as part of "gestures" to the PA in the framework of peace talks. Israelis have been outraged at the releases, which many fear set a precedent for more terrorism.
The US State Department has not yet responded to the claims, which have simmered since reports rose of a miscommunication about the releases last week.
Kerry was optimistic about the talks, however.
"I can guarantee all parties that President (Barack) Obama and I are committed to putting forward ideas that are fair and balanced, and to improving the security of all peoples," Kerry told reporters in Jerusalem Sunday.
"We're not there yet, but we are making progress," Kerry said Saturday, adding everyone was "working with great intensity" to try to reach a deal.
"I'm confident that the talks we've had in the past two days have already fleshed out and even resolved certain kinds of issues and presented new opportunities for others," he said. "We are beginning to flesh out the toughest hurdles yet to be overcome."