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Israel refuses to release prisoners in time for holiday

February 11, 2014 at 12:40 pm

Israeli media reported on Wednesday that Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has refused to release the second batch of Palestinian prisoners two weeks early in order for them to celebrate Eid Al-Adha with their families.

According to the agreement reached between the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli occupation when they resumed peace talks last July, the second batch of Palestinian prisoners detained before the Oslo Agreement is supposed to be released on 29 October.

The Israeli government has agreed to release in total 104 Palestinian prisoners serving long sentences, divided into four batches. The release was intended as a sign of goodwill ahead of the resumption of peace talks brokered by the US.

Netanyahu faces considerable pressure from extremist right wing Israeli parties and ministers to delay or cancel the release. The Israeli newspaper the Times of Israel said that their argument is based on fears of increased violence in the occupied West Bank.

Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that both American and Palestinian officials have visited Netanyahu’s office in order to clarify the kind of pressure being practiced on him by the right wing ministers.

But it became clear that Netanyahu has so far resisted the pressure. His representative in the peace talks, Yitzhak Molcho, has assured the Palestinian and American officials that Netanyahu is insisting on releasing the prisoners on schedule.

PA officials initiated their efforts to make the release two week before the slated time in order to let the prisoners, who have been behind bars for more than two decades, celebrate Eid Al-Adha with their families. This year the Eid falls on October 15.