Israel announced it will release 26 veteran Palestinian prisoners ahead of a resumption of peace talks on Wednesday, but at the same time angered the Palestinians by approving new settlement construction.
A special ministerial committee announced late on Sunday it had approved the 26 prisoners to be released “following the government decision to renew peace talks with the Palestinians,” according to a statement from the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The names of the prisoners -- were published early on Monday morning.
“This is a day of celebration for terror organisations,” Meir Indor, head of Almagor -- a group representing Israeli victims of Palestinian attacks.
Palestinians welcomed the impending prisoner release, but slammed the settlement announcement as a move aimed at “preventing” peace talks.
“It is clear that the Israeli government is deliberately attempting to sabotage US and international efforts to resume negotiations by approving more settlement units three days before the ... Palestinian-Israeli meeting,” Palestinian negotiator Mohammed Shtayeh said.