The Palestinian Authority is accusing Israel of “blackmail” and instead says it is heading back to the United Nations to appeal for recognition as a sovereign nation if U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry can’t force Israel to release 30 terrorists.
The group comprises the final of four tranches to have been released last Friday from Israeli jails. Included were at least 20 Israeli Arab citizens, a controversial list opposed by nearly all of the ministers in Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s coalition government, especially in view of the fact that all of the major concessions since the talks began — as before — seem to have been made by Israel only.
Incensed PA officials rejected the alternate proposal advanced instead of the release last Friday by Israel’s government. Israel allegedly offered to released hundreds more terrorist prisoners if the PA continue final status negotiations beyond the April 29 deadline – but this time take the talks more seriously.
The response of Israel’s “peace partners” was not encouraging.
“Israel is practicing a policy of blackmail and linking its agreement to releasing the fourth tranche of prisoners with the Palestinians accepting an extension of the negotiations,” a PA official told news agencies in Ramallah.
“If Kerry doesn’t provide a clear answer on the release of the 30 prisoners [we] will initiate steps for acceptance to United Nations organizations,” Mustafa Barghouti, an independent PA parliament member, told news agencies Monday night.
The move would be a clear violation of all agreements the PA has made with Israel and the United States.
Since July 2013, Israel has freed 78 PA Arab terrorists and made numerous other concessions that endanger the security of its citizens in “good will gestures” to encourage the PA to remain at the negotiating table.
But the four-stage release of terrorists incarcerated in Israeli jails was conditioned upon the active participation in direct talks by PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas — and the Arab leader has not made good on his end of the deal.
It’s an old pattern, this “let’s talk some more about it but I can’t sit down with you until you give me what I want” — a game as beloved, familiar and ingrained in the Middle East as that being played out with Washington by the Iranians in Tehran.
Youngsters and tourists quickly learn the drill in the storefront alleyways of Jerusalem’s Old City market. And it’s profitable and even fun, until it turns deadly.
Survival makes it essential to learn to tell when the game is deadly, and when you can’t, it is equally important to have enough sense to trust your friends to tell you when it is.Hana Levi Julian