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Abbas Wants Sweeter Prisoner Deal for Talks

A Palestinian minister said on Monday evening that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has rejected an offer by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to release security prisoners in exchange for the renewal of peace talks.

Palestinian Authority Minister of Prisoner Affairs Issa Qaraqe confirmed a Haaretz report that Netanyahu made an offer to release initially 25 Palestinian security prisoners convicted of murdering Israelis and the subsequent release of another 100 prisoners over four stages by the end of 2012.

Qaraqe said that Abbas rejected Netanyahu’s offer, demanding instead that the prisoners be released at once and not over various stages.

“Abu Mazen (Abbas) demanded that all 123 prisoners incarcerated in Israel since before the Oslo Accords be released simultaneously,” said Qaraqe. “Abu Mazen rejected Netanyahu’s offer and called on the Israeli government to implement past agreements made with the ex-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who promised to release numerous prisoners.”

Netanyahu also responded to the Haaretz report on Monday, during a press conference held by Communications Minister Moshe Kahlon. “I do not intend to make a unilateral gesture, certainly not for a meeting,” said Netanyahu. “I want to renew negotiations, but Abu Mazen (Abbas) missed the chance. His visit to Tehran certainly does not advance peace, especially given what they say there.”

For more, go to Haaretz.com

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