Hamas: No to Extension of Peace Talks
Hamas said on Thursday evening that it was against any extension of the peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA).
The group’s spokesman, Sami Abu Zuhri, made the remarks, following reports of a possible deal between Israel and the PA, whereby Israel would release Israeli-held Arab terrorists in exchange for the extension of peace talks.
Abu Zuhri further said that the PA should be "faithful to Palestinian national positions" and oppose negotiations with Israel.
Earlier Thursday, it was reported that a deal freeing Jonathan Pollard in exchange for Israeli-held Arab terrorist convicts and an extension of peace talks will be carried out in the coming days.
The deal was reported on Channel 2 and Channel 10. Al Arabiya also reported that the deal was about to be finalized. A U.S. official later denied the reports.
PA sources have clarified they don't intend to back down on their demand for the release of Israeli-Arab terrorists promised as part of "gestures" for the peace talk. While the last batch, including the Israeli-Arab terrorists, was cancelled last Thursday, Israel has not ruled out their future release, saying a discussion on the issue will be held.
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki indicated on Thursday that Israeli and PA officials had held fresh U.S.-mediated talks but that progress has yet to be made.
On Wednesday, Hamas responded to Israel’s sanctions on PA by calling on Palestinian Arabs in Judea and Samaria to "give full rein" to “resistance against the Israeli occupation.”
The call came hours after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu ordered government officials to stop cooperation with PA officials as part of a round of sanctions on the PA, after it breached the conditions of the peace talks by unilaterally going to the United Nations.
Israel toughened the sanctions against the PA on Thursday and froze the transfer of taxes it collects for the PA.
Israel also suspended participation with the PA to develop a gas field in the sea off of Hamas-controlled Gaza, and put a cap on PA deposits in Israeli banks.