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Netanyahu will not release more prisoners as goodwill gesture

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that despite Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas, also know as Abu-Mazen, offering a strong condemnation of the kidnapping of the three Israeli settlers, who went missing on 12 June and were later found dead, his words contradict the welcome that he offers to released terrorists.

Arabs48 news website quoted Netanyahu, while speaking during a cabinet meeting before the war on the Gaza Strip, as saying that Abu-Mazen "will not receive another release of prisoners."

He continued: "Abu Mazen made some important statements in condemning the abduction. But those statements contrast with the celebratory welcome that he staged for released terrorists, the salaries that he pays them, and the incitement [sanctioned by the PA]."

The news was initially reported by Israel's Channel 2 television, which observed that such remarks undermine efforts to revive negotiations. The channel also said that as long as Israel refuses a settlement freeze, there does not seem to be any avenue for a continuation of the peace talks.

US-brokered negotiations collapsed earlier this year when Israel announced the construction of more illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories and refused to release the final batch of Palestinian prisoners, as had been previously agreed at the start of the talks.

There currently seems to be no willingness on the part of the Israeli government to restart peace negotiations, despite the optimism of Justice Minister Tzipi Livni.

Meanwhile, President Abbas has been trying to recruit international support for a new political reconciliation initiative based on Israel's withdrawal from all lands in the occupied West Bank within three years and renewing talks for another nine month period, conditioned on starting discussions about the borders of a future Palestinian state. Only then does he suggest discussing the other core issues, such as Jerusalem, refugees, settlements and security arrangements.

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