After releasing Palestinian prisoners as a gesture of goodwill, Israel has now taken another step to gain the favor of the Palestinian Authority, issuing 5,000 new work permits to allow residents of the PA to work in Israel.
Defense Minister Moshe (Bogie) Ya'alon was expected to ask the cabinet ministers during their weekly meeting on Sunday to approve permanent entry for Palestinians granted the permits.
After the release of the first group of 26 Palestinian prisoners last month, the second group is set to be released in four weeks, the Palestinians reported. However, an official Israeli source said the next release would not be conducted this month.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who has spearheaded recently renewed peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, was expected to meet with a delegation of Arab League foreign ministers in Rome on Sunday to discuss the peace talks, sources in Ramallah confirmed. Kerry may also meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
Meanwhile, Abbas hinted that the Palestinians may reject the concept of a land swap with Israel as part of a permanent peace agreement, saying that Israel had reneged on agreements struck between former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and the Palestinians during his term.
A senior Palestinian source also leaked to The Associated Press a report that the Palestinian team has rejected an Israeli proposal for a Palestinian state under provisional borders, saying that the main fear was that the provisional borders would become permanent.
"Israel is using the issue of security to take land," he said. "From the general discussions we had in the last couple of weeks, the Israelis have shown no intention to dismantle any settlement." He said the current proposals indicated that Israel would seek to retain control over about 40 percent of the West Bank.
Other senior officials in Ramallah indicated that "negotiations are not advancing and will likely soon collapse."