Israel’s decision to release Palestinian prisoners, almost all of whom have already served 20 years or more in Israeli prisons, was not an act of appeasement to the Palestinian Authority or a favor to the United States. In return for the release of the prisoners, Mahmoud Abbas agreed not to apply to join any of the 15 international conventions and treaties. When Israel did not release the prisoners at the end of March as promised and issued permits for 700 new housing units for Israeli settlers in eastern Jerusalem which the Palestinians view as their capital, the Palestinian Authority applied for membership to join the 15 international conventions.
Tzipi Livni, the chief Israeli negotiator, is quoted as saying, “There are people in government who don’t want peace.” She cited Naftali Bennett, a member of the Netanyahu government who declared that he would resign if any Israeli Arab prisoner was released, and Uri Ariel, the housing minister who issued the 700 permits. She accused both men of trying to sabotage the negotiations toward a two-state solution. Apparently they succeeded.