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Palestinian official says Kerry is trying to save the negotiations

The US Secretary of State John Kerry's visit to the Middle East comes as an attempt to save the Palestinian-Israeli peace talks and release the fourth group of Palestinian prisoners, a senior Palestinian official said today.

A member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, Wassel Abu Yousef, told Quds News: "Kerry is scheduled to hold intensive meetings during his next visit to compel Israel to release the fourth group of Palestinian prisoners."

Abu Yusuf pointed out that "the US administration is in an uncomfortable position being a mediator in the release of Palestinian prisoners from the Israeli prisons according to an agreement signed by both sides which requests the Palestinians to suspend their action to join international bodies and human rights organisation.

"The negotiations are on the verge of collapse due to the Israeli practices which refuses to release 30 Palestinian prisoners," Abu Yusuf said.

He noted that "the next few hours could witness new developments with regards to negotiations and the fate of the fourth group of Palestinian prisoners." Abu Yusuf said: "The Palestinian leadership will hold an important meeting on Monday in the city of Ramallah to discuss all the political developments in the region mainly the negotiations and the recent American efforts to save them."

US officials said last night that "Kerry is preparing for an unplanned visit to the Middle East in an attempt to extend the negotiations period". Officials did not give further details about the date of the visit.

Meanwhile, an Israeli official said: "The US negotiating team ran indirect marathon talks between representatives of the Israeli and Palestinian negotiating teams all last night to reach a compromise formula to extend the negotiations period."

Israel's Channel 10 television claimed that Netanyahu is willing to soften his positions and propose incentives for the Palestinians including the release of additional prisoners.

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