There was bitter anger outside the Israeli prime minister’s office. The protest was sparked by plans to free 104 Palestinian prisoners. The announcement of their release comes ahead of the resumption of preliminary peace talks in Washington on Monday.
The release of the prisoners who were convicted of deadly attacks will happen over several months.
“You don’t release murderous terrorists. It’s an indescribable crime, spitting in the face of the bereaved families and the Israeli people. It cannot be that people who have murdered innocent men, women and children will be freed and will be welcomed as heroes. Past experience shows they will return to terrorism,” said one of the protesters Eliyahu Nissim.
There was anger too in Ramallah where many Palestininas have called for Israel to vacate land they occupied during the 1967 Israel – Palestine war before any talks resume. The status of Jerusalem and the fate of Palestinian refugees are also core to their objections.
Khalid Jarar, leader of the Palestinian Front for the Liberation of Palestine voiced her opposition. “The demonstrators wanted to send a political message that they oppose the talks. The continued suppression of the right to self-expression and the right to demonstrate is completely unacceptable and will ultimately not stop the voices that are against the talks,” she said.
US Secretary of State John Kerry led the efforts to kick start these initial talks which a statement said are aimed at charting a way forward rather than tackling thorny issues between the two sides.
But it remains unclear whether they will lead to a formal resumption of the peace negotiations which broke down in 2010 over Jewish settlement building in the West Bank.