Saeb Erekat has told the Arab Palestinian newspaper Ma’an that the first 26 of 104 Arab prisoners will be released in a little more than a week, on August 13, according to the Arab news outlet Maan.
Erekat, the chief negotiator for the Arabs, said that the 104 prisoners will be released in four stages. Israel has said the continued release of prisoners will depend on the progress made in the discussions.
The Israeli families of those murdered by the Arab prisoners their government threatens to release continue attempts to stop the government from going ahead with it.
The first meeting in the renewed talks between the Israelis and the Arab Palestinians took place last week in Washington, with secretary of state John Kerry playing the eager host.
The next meeting is expected to be held during the second week of August. Member of Knesset, Justice Minister and chief negotiator for Israel, Tzippi Livni, said on Saturday that the next meetings will rotate between locations in Israel and in the disputed territories.
Erekat also said that he and his negotiating team are insisting that all final status issues be put on the negotiating table during the current discussions. Those issues include Jerusalem, refugees, water and settlements.
The talks have a nine month timetable, but the timing is far less of an issue than is the question of how the parties will handle the tough issues, which include every one that the Arab Palestinians insisted would be covered during these discussions.
About the Author: Lori Lowenthal Marcus is the US correspondent for The Jewish Press. She is a recovered lawyer who previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools.
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