A spokesman for Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah faction has admitted that the PA is "blackmailing" Israel into releasing terrorist prisoners. The revelation comes as the US is reportedly attempting to push Israel to release another 400 terrorists to continue peace talks.
Spokesman Ahmad Assaf revealed on official PA TV two weeks ago, on March 19, that the PA is using its non-member observer status in the United Nations (UN), given in 2012, as a "weapon" against Israel. Palestinian Media Watch translated the comments.
Given the UN status, the PA has been "waving around" the threat of going to the International Criminal Court for around two years according to Assaf: "we've obtained the release of the prisoners, we blackmailed [Israel], that is, in quotation marks, and we've taken important positions because we have a card that we're waving around."
Senior Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) Official Nabil Shaath revealed last November that the PA is only staying in the peace talks to secure the release of the 104 terrorists promised by Israel as a "gesture" to restart peace talks last July. So far 78 have been released, but the last release set for last Saturday has been put on hold.
Shaath reiterated his comments early last December, saying the PA had conformed to the conditions of the peace talks and not pressed for further international recognition at the UN until then only to secure the release of the remaining terrorists.
Just last week the PA threatened to take unilateral moves for international recognition this week if the last batch of terrorist releases didn't go through; it has yet to follow through on its threats.
Assaf's admission of "blackmail" is revealed the same Tuesday that Judea and Samaria's Yesha Council slammed the new US proposal to free Jonathan Pollard, in US jail for 29 years over charges of spying for Israel, in exchange for over 400 terrorists and a partial construction freeze in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem.
"The submission to Arab blackmail and American bribery through the use of Pollard is a disgrace," argued the Yesha Council.