Report: Israel tells US it will not release Israeli-Arab prisoners
PM won't release prisoners with Israeli ID as gesture to Abbas, but will release them if Pollard is freed, Channel 2 reports.
The Jerusalem Post - December 30, 2013 Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told US Secretary of State John Kerry that Israel would not release any Israeli-Arab prisoners in the fourth and final release, Channel 2 reported on Monday night, citing an Israeli official.
Israel has been reluctant to release those prisoners that, unlike the Palestinian prisoners, live within the Green Line and have an Israeli ID.
Netanyahu has reportedly asked the Shin Bet and the Israeli Prisons Service to compile a list of other prisoners to replace the Israeli-Arab prisoners already on the list.
The Prime Minister's Office, however, said that Israel never committed itself at any stage to release Israeli Arabs. A decision to do so would entail another cabinet vote.
The official told Channel 2 that Israel felt "deceived" by Kerry, who caved to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' demand to increase the number of prisoners released from 82 to 104, and led him to believe Israel would be willing to release prisoners with Israeli citizenship.
The PMO denied that claim by the official as well, saying Kerry did not deceive Israel on the peace talks, Channel 2 reported.
Netanyahu reportedly told Kerry that while Israel was not willing to release Israeli-Arab prisoners as a gesture to the Palestinians, it would be willing to release them as a gesture to the US, in return for the release of Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard.
According to the report, Kerry has agreed to consider the proposal, but has yet to respond to it.
Kerry is due to arrive in the region on Thursday for yet another round of shuttle diplomacy.
Herb Keinon contributed to this report.
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