Israel has named the 26 prisoners it will release this week under a deal that has enabled United States backed peace talks to recommence.
Palestinians have welcomed the news, however they said it had been undermined by the announcement that almost 1,200 new homes would be built in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
The decision by Israel to release Palestinian Emtawe El Khor welcomed the news that his son is to be released. He said “he won’t believe it” until he holds his “son’s hand”. Only then can he say that his “son has come home”.
Israel has agreed, in principle, to free a total of 104 prisoners after much shuttle diplomacy by US Secretary of State, John Kerry.
Issa Quaraqe, the Palestinian Minister of Prisoner Affairs, said it is “a good step” and a very “important” move. He explained that “most of the prisoners were sentenced to a lifetime” with the “majority of them having spent more than 20 years” in Israeli prisons.
The decision by the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has also not been welcomed by everybody in Israel.
Yossi Tzur, whose son died in a terrorist attack in Haifa said he believes “the prime minister was blackmailed into releasing those terrorists.” He added that “there is no reason for it and the start of the negotiations should be without any preconditions.”
Peace negotiations were suspended in 2010 in a dispute over the continued building of settlements by Israel in the West Bank. They resumed on July 30 in Washington with a second round due in Jerusalem on Wednesday.