Palestinians object to prisoner-release offer

ATTEMPTS TO prepare the ground for next week's Middle East summit ran into trouble last night when the two sides disagreed sharply over a new Israeli plan to release up to 900 Palestinian prisoners.

A meeting to discuss the question of which prisoners should be released broke up without agreement after Palestinian officials objected to Israeli insistence that the released prisoners should not include militants whom they say have "blood on their hands".

The decision to release the prisoners had been announced earlier in what Israeli officials described as a move designed to help "jump start" a peace process ahead of next Tuesday's summit between Ariel Sharon, the Israeli Prime Minister and Mahmoud Abbas, the new Palestinian President. Israeli officials had said that the first 500 could be released soon after the summit in Sharm El-Sheikh but the release of a further 400 was likely to be dependent on the new Palestinian leadership taking active steps to prevent future militant violence.

Saeb Erekat, a senior Palestinian cabinet minister, said last night after meeting Dov Weisglass, Mr Sharon's most senior aide, that the talks had foundered over the request from Mr Abbas for former militants detained before the first Oslo agreement in 1993 to be included among those released.

The request echoes that made by Mr Abbas in 2003 when he was prime minister and asked for 500 prisoners in the pre-Oslo category to be released. Mr Abbas argued then that it was illogical to exclude men who had already served long sentences and had been convicted for carrying out orders from those with whom Israel was seeking agreement - including Mr Abbas himself.

Mr Erekat said: "It was a difficult meeting. There is a new Palestinian President and the Israelis should be giving him a boost. We have said we are ready to discuss this at any time and we urged the officials to go back to their Prime Minister." Israeli officials had earlier projected the decision as a "painful concession", which had followed an intense debate among cabinet ministers.

Gideon Meir, deputy director general of the Foreign Ministry, declared: "The Prime Minister is going the extra, extra mile, to try and get the peace process back on track."

The fragility of the truce was further underlined yesterday when four Israel Defence Forces soldiers were wounded after militants opened fire on their jeep near the West Bank settlement of Eshkolot, southwest of Hebron. Earlier, a Palestinian militant was killed after what the Army said was a grenade and shooting attack on a military jeep which left two other soldiers wounded.

Israeli troops stationed at the Hawara checkpoint near the West Bank city of Nablus arrested a 16-year-old Palestinian whom they said had been carrying an explosives belt in a bag. They said the boy had said it was for a suicide attack.

News
people

Top Gear presenter is no stranger to foot-in-mouth controversy

Arts and Entertainment
Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter films
books

New essay by JK Rowling went live on Pottermore site this morning

News
Mike Tyson has led an appalling and sad life, but are we not a country that gives second chances?
people

Mike Tyson branded 'superhero' after a surprise good turn

Sport
A Rutherford Raiders shirt with the PornHub sponsorship
football

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Charlie Sheen said he would
tv

Charlie Sheen could be set to revive his role as a hedonistic womaniser

Life and Style
Jamie Oliver’s version of Jollof rice led thousands of people to post angry comments on his website
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
glastonbury
News
Apple CEO Timothy Cook
people
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Vividly drawn: Timothy Spall in Mike Leigh’s ‘Mr Turner’
film

Review: Mike Leigh's biopic is a rambling, rich character study

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

KS1 Teacher Cornwall

£20000 - £45000 per annum: Randstad Education Plymouth: Randstad Education Ltd...

Early Years Teacher - Jan 2015 - China

Negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Position: Early Years TeacherRequired: J...

KS1 and KS2 Primary NQT Job in Lancaster Area

£85 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Preston: Randstad Education is urgently...

Trainee Recruitment Consultants

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35K: SThree: We consistently strive to be the...

Day In a Page

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes