The mood was subdued in the West Bank city of Hebron after Israel cancelled the scheduled release of 26 Palestinian prisoners. They also called for a review of peace talks, asking for assurances they would continue past the April 29th deadline. Hebron resident Jihad el Qawasmi appeared unimpressed.
“Israel is always trying to evade the merits of the peace process and will give any excuse.” he said adding that, “the delay or cancellation of the fourth and final round of prisoners is based on a previous agreement. Israel is trying to escape the pressures of the fight for peace that is being imposed on it.”
It comes after the Palestinian leadership re-ignited its push for membership of fifteen UN-bodies, contrary to an agreement reached last year. Israeli Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman sought to downplay the significance.
“I wouldn’t get worked up about it,” he said. “This is their right. They joined a respected organisation like UNESCO and I didn’t see them achieving independence and it didn’t draw us nearer to an agreement or peace between us or in the Middle East,” he concluded.
The latest moves have created the biggest challenge to the latest US-sponsored peace talks yet. American Secretary of State, John Kerry called it a ‘critical moment’ but vowed to continue negotiations ‘no matter what’.