PM: Prisoner Release Holdup to be Resolved 'In a Matter of Days'
The wife of Marwan Barghouti, a senior member of Abbas’s Fatah party who is serving five life sentences for planning numerous terror attacks against Israelis, stated Sunday that Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is campaigning for the terrorist's release.
Barghouti has been named as a possible successor for Abbas, who is under increasing pressure in the political sphere to both sign an agreement with Israel and ascertain Palestinian nationalist rights.
Barghouti is one of the PA's most dangerous terrorists, according to experts, and he has threatened Israel with a third intifada, albeit an unarmed one from his jail cell. He declared that “would not give up and I claim that the right of return is a sacred right of the Palestinians.”
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu addressed at a meeting of Likud ministers Sunday morning reports regarding concerns being raised regarding the release of other terrorists and continued negotiations with the Palestinian Authority (PA).
According to Netanyahu, the negotiations "will either be settled or implode; in any event, no deal will be made in the absence of a clear exchange benefiting both parties.” He added that the final verdict on the fourth batch of terrorist releases, if it is to go through at all, will take several days to finalize and that any further agreements will be subject to a government vote.
This is the first official statement on the issue from Netanyahu, after PA sources first went running to international media Friday with news that Israel had refused to release the final batch of terrorists.
The PA stated earlier Sunday that no official action had been taken yet on the issue, because they are unwilling to take responsibility for torpedoing talks.
The PA has made numerous amendments to the terms of the talks and the preconditions set, including demands for a building freeze and repeated calls to release some of the Palestinian Arab world's most dangerous terrorists, such as Marwan Barghouti.
Israel agreed to release 104 terrorist prisoners as a "gesture" to the Palestinian Authority (PA) and a precondition to ongoing peace talks. So far, 78 have been released; the final batch had been due for release on Friday, March 28.
The fourth batch of terrorist releases has sparked considerable controversy, as MKs point out that the previous releases have done nothing to further talks, and that several of the released terrorists have contributed to the increase in terror attacks over the past year.
PA chief negotiator Saeb Erekat stated earlier this month that Chairman Mahmoud Abbas was staying in talks solely for the sake of the terrorist releases, prompting Israeli officials to reconsider completing the deal.