Minister of Intelligence, International Relations and Strategic Affairs, Yuval Steinitz, says that it depends on Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas – aka Abu Mazen – whether or not the fourth and final tranche of the release of Palestinian Arab terrorists takes place.
Steinitz pointed at statements by Abbas' senior negotiator, according to which he is only continuing with the negotiations because Israel is releasing terrorists prisoners, as a “goodwill gesture” toward the PA.
"If Abu Mazen is hinting that after this tranche he intends to torpedo the negotiations, that is not possible from our point of view,” Steintz told Channel 10. He added that it was agreed from the outset that the terrorists released would not include Israeli Arabs.
"There was no commitment to release Israelis and it was said in an unmistakably clear way that these tranches do not include them,” he added, and vowed to vote against any initiative to release Israeli citizens.
Steinitz estimated that the talks with the PA are headed toward failure, but added that he believes this will only be a temporary state, following which the talks will be renewed.
The estimate is in line with similar statements by the PA's Jibril Rajoub, who said the talks were stalled but would likely resume soon.
An unnamed PA official claimed last week that Abbas' conditions for prolonging talks were additional prisoner releases by Israel and a complete building freeze in Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.
Regarding attempts at reconciliation with Turkey, Steinitz revealed that he spoke this week with Turkish president Abdullah Gül, at a nuclear summit in Holland.
"It so happened that we spoke,” he said. “The conversation started by chance and it was long and friendly, out of a hope that relations with Turkey will return to be as they once were. We have heaps of common interests and we are making many efforts. I hope it will work out soon,” he summed up.