In connection with a further round of peace talks today between the Israelis and Palestinians, a possible easing of restrictions on releasing prisoners involved in bloodshed is being considered. Proposed criteria changes were set to be discussed before Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and ex-premier Ahmed Qorei met in Jerusalem.
A senior Israeli official has said that Marwan Barghouthi could be a candidate for release. The Palestinian uprising leader from Fatah is seen as a possible successor to President Mahmoud Abbas.
Abbas aides said substantive peace talks with Israel would not begin until Israel committed to halting all settlement activity, as called for under the long-stalled “road map” peace plan. This also calls on the Palestinians to rein in militants in the West Bank and Hamas-controlled Gaza, before a Palestinian state can be established.
Drawing criticism from the US and the EU, on the eve the latest negotiations Israeli plans were unveiled for 740 new homes to be built next year on occupied land near Jerusalem.