Prisoner Release: Fate of Israeli Arabs the First Sticking Point for Talks

Cabinet Releases Palestinians, But No Vote on Israeli Arabs Yet

Israel’s cabinet voted today to release 104 long-term Palestinian detainees, a move aimed at confidence-building ahead of peace negotiations, with the first preliminary talks to be held Monday.

The decision was controversial within the Israeli cabinet, and also sparked significant protests outside of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office in Jerusalem. But the big roadblock won’t be what was voted on, but instead what wasn’t.

The initial release was supposed to be a bit larger and include a number of Israeli Arabs as well as Palestinians. Netanyahu pulled this part of the vote at the last minute, and officially only indicated that if they ever release the Israeli Arabs, it will be with a different vote.

Palestinian officials say their plans were built around the assumption of both the Palestinian and Israeli Arab detainees being released, and that they will continue to push for the rest of the releases. They also warned that their position on the peace talks could change if the release isn’t completed.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.