World / Middle East

Israel not to release final group of prisoners

(Xinhua) Updated: 2014-03-28 21:30

GAZA - Israel has informed the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) that it will not release the final group of Palestinian prisoners who are expected to be freed on Saturday, a Palestinian official said on Friday.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Xinhua that the message was relayed to the PNA by US special envoy Martin Indyk.

He also said that the US has been practicing pressure on the Israeli government to release the prisoners in order to avoid a possible collapse of the peace talks.

The Palestinian leadership would possibly hold a meeting to examine the Israeli decision, the official added.

As the Palestinian-Israeli peace negotiations resumed in July last year, Israel agreed to release 104 Palestinians arrested before the two sides signed Oslo peace accords in 1993.

During the nine-month talks, Israel released 78 prisoners in three groups of 26 prisoners. However, the two sides failed to agree on a peace agreement framework that the White House proposed after Israel insisted that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

Israel said it will not release the last group of 26 prisoners until the Palestinians accept to extend the peace talks which are set to end in April.

The Palestinians reject to link the prisoners' release to the extension of the peace negotiations, threatening that the Palestinians would go to the United Nations for international recognition if Israel is not committed to releasing the last group of prisoners on time.

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