Top Israeli officials surprised everyone today when they revealed that the Palestinian Authority had offered new peace talks without their usual precondition of a settlement freeze, and shocked everybody by revealing that Israel had turned down the offer.
No peace talks have taken place between the two sides since Israel cancelled the last settlement freeze in September 2010, and Israeli diplomats often make a big show of insisting that it is only the “Palestinian refusal” preventing such talks.
But officials say that the PA was willing to abandon the freeze demand if Israel made a show of good will by releasing 100 long-held prisoners. The offer came as a Quartet “deadline” nears for restarting talks, and Israeli officials are insisting that they don’t believe the offer was a sincere one.
The PA has denied predicating the talks on the release of the prisoners, saying they had “no preconditions” for such talks. Israeli officials are reportedly outraged that the Palestinians termed the effort aimed at “renewal” of the talks, and are demanding they call it a “resumption of negotiations” for some reason.