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Official: Palestinian prisoners to begin coordinated protests

April 5, 2014 4:55 P.M. (Updated: April 5, 2014 4:55 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails will commence protests beginning next week against Israel's failure to release a fourth group of veteran prisoners, a Palestinian Authority official said Friday.

Ziad Abu Ein, undersecretary to the minister of prisoners' affairs, said the coordinated protests would culminate in an open hunger strike if the prisoners' demands were not met, Abu Ein added.

"The Israeli government is sick and needs to be quarantined because it poses a threat to the peace process in the region," he added.

A source close to the ongoing peace negotiations said on Thursday that Israel had cancelled the release of the fourth group of veteran Palestinian prisoners in response to the recent decision by Palestinian officials to seek recognition at a number of major international multilateral treaties and conventions.

Palestinian officials said the bids for recognition were in response to Israel's failure to release the final group of prisoners on March 29 as scheduled.

Israel agreed to release 104 veteran Palestinian prisoners who have been in custody since before the 1993 Oslo Accords as part of a plan to resume peace negotiations after talks were halted for more than two years.

Direct negotiations began in July between Israel and the Palestinians in a US-led attempt to restart the deadlocked peace process. Israel has announced plans to build thousands of homes in illegal settlements across the West Bank over the course of the talks, inhibiting US efforts.

The internationally recognized Palestinian territories of which the West Bank and East Jerusalem form a part have been occupied by the Israeli military since 1967.
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