Saeb Erakat
Saeb Erakat AFP/File

Israel will release 26 terrorist prisoners on August 13, PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat told the Ma’an news agency on Saturday.

He said the 104 prisoners that Israel recently voted to release as a gesture to the Palestinian Authority will be released in four stages.

Officials in Israel confirmed to Kol Yisrael radio on Saturday night that the first 26 terrorists will be released before the negotiating sides hold their next meeting.

Erekat told Ma’an that the PA leadership has informed Israel and the United States that all final status issues must be put on the negotiating table, including Jerusalem, refugees, water and settlements.

Meanwhile, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni said on Saturday that the next round of direct Israeli-PA peace talks will take place in the region during the second week of August.

Livni responded on Friday to Israel’s decision to release terrorists, saying that in her opinion, giving in to demands by terror groups that kidnapped a soldier by releasing prisoners was much worse.

She noted said that the 104 terrorists Israel agreed to free would be released in small groups and only if the PA shows that it is serious during the negotiations.

“The bereaved families feel this conflict in the most painful way," she said, "but to me, releasing such terrorists when there is a gun pointed at our heads in exchange for a soldier or for dead bodies, is much worse from a national perspective."

Livni added that the release of the terrorists is meant to "generate hope for the children of those who paid the price [of the conflict]," and claimed that it will happen “in small groups and only if the negotiations will be serious."