Israeli daily Haaretz has reported that Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni stated during what was described as tensed meeting between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators, that “Israel will not implement the release of the fourth phase of veteran political prisoners.”
Livni threatened that, unless the Palestinians void their application to join the UN organizations, Israel will not release any Palestinian detainee.
Haaretz said that the Israeli government also decided to impose a series of punitive measures against the Palestinians in the occupied West Bank.
It said Netanyahu and his Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon instructed the coordinator of “Government Activities” in the occupied territories, Major General Yoav Mordechai “to prepare a list of all possible measures” to punish the Palestinians.
One of the measures is to suspend a permit to the “Wataniya” Palestinian wireless provider, operating in the West Bank, and to prevent it from bringing its equipment to the Gaza Strip where it intends to provide services.
On Thursday, United States Secretary General John Kerry allegedly tried to get Netanyahu to have restraint in order to avoid a “total collapse of peace talks”, yet, when he made public statements, he urged both Israeli and Palestinian leaders to act on saving the peace process.
Haaretz said that an Israeli-Palestinian and American talks session started on Wednesday evening around 7:30 in the evening, and continued until 4 at dawn on Thursday, but yielded no positive outcome.
Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, and Netanyahu’s special envoy Yitzhak Molho, represented the Israeli side, while chief negotiator Dr. Saeb Erekat and Palestinian Intelligence Chief Majid Faraj represented the Palestinian side.
U.S. Special Envoy Martin Indyk supervised the meeting and tried to moderate it, but it ended with complete failure following a very stormy session filled with what Haaretz described as “threats and accusations”.
On Thursday, the White House said the Israeli decision to void the release of the fourth phase of veteran Palestinian detainees “poses more difficulties in achieving peace”.
The detainees were supposed to be released by the end of last Month, but Israel delayed the release and decided to void it.
Livni told Erekat that Israel will not release the 26 veteran detainees because the Palestinian Authority filed an application to join 15 UN and international agreements and treaties.
The United States said it “would continue its efforts” to ensure the resumption of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians despite the current impasse.
Israel's government has announced the construction of thousands of settler housing units and its army has killed 60 Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza since the negotiations were resumed last year.
Hundreds of Palestinians were kidnapped, and hundreds were injured.
On Tuesday, at dawn, [December 31, 2013] Israel released 26 veteran Palestinian detainees, as part of the third phase of releasing all detained Palestinians held since before the first Oslo peace agreement in 1993.
During the first and second phases, Israel released, back in mid-August, 26 veteran detainees (14 from Gaza and 12 from the West bank) and, in late October, it released 26 veteran detainees (21 from Gaza and 5 from the West Bank).
The fourth and final stage of releasing veteran detainees was supposed to be implemented on March 28, 2014, but Israel decided not to let them go. In total 104 veteran detainees were supposed to be freed by March 28.
Israel holds more than 5,000 Palestinians in its prisons, most of them on security grounds. Around 150 of these are held under administrative detention, without charge or trial, and another 150 are minors.
Approximately 84% of the detainees are from the West Bank; all detainees are held in 17 prisons, detention and interrogation centers, including Nafha prison, the Negev Detention Camp, Be’er As-Sabe’ prison, Hadarim prison, Asqalan Prison, Ha-Sharon Prison, Ofer Prison, Majiddo Prison, Galboa’ Prison and Shatta Prison.
In a report published on April 1, 2014, the Ahrar Center for Detainees Studies and Human Rights has reported that Israeli soldiers have killed twelve Palestinians since the beginning of this year, kidnapped 364 in March, and 1059 since January first.