The roller coaster of the Israeli/Palestinian peace talks are moving up again.
Earlier today Al Arabiya News Channel reported that a deal for the release of Jonathan Pollard and to extend the talks between Israel and the Palestinian authority has been completed. That report is premature. The U.S. State Department as well as Israeli sources have confirmed talks are on going and the gap between the parties has closed a bit, but no agreement has been reached.
According to the initial reports from Al Arabiya:
The deal will see an unspecified number of Palestinian prisoners released from Israel jails and a freeze on settlement construction in the West Bank.
In exchange, the Palestinians will suspend their plans to join 15 international bodies and treaties and the United States will release jailed Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard, according to sources.
YNet News has a similar report but it is relying on the Al Arabiya report.
Sources in Israel confirm that deal is being in the table but there is no deal as of yet. Indeed a report in Arutz Sheva confirms those sources:
One US official speaking to AFP on condition of anonymity stated Thursday that the “reports are incorrect.” After initially reporting that a deal could be near, Channel 2 quoted Israeli sources close to the talks as saying “the reports on the deal are premature,” adding that the US State Department said “gaps between Israel and the Palestinians have narrowed, but there is still no deal.”
There are also different reports of what is in the deal, but generally, sources report the items being discussed are generally as follows; the remaining Palestinian prisoners that were promised will be released plus additional terrorists, at least some of the applications to join international bodies made by the Palestinians will be suspended, a partial or full settlement freeze in Judea and Samaria (but not Jerusalem), the talks continue at least till end of the year, and as reported Pollard gets out.
Even if a deal is reached there is no guarantee that it will be approved by the Netanyahu cabinet. Foreign Minister Liberman said earlier in the week that he would support continued peace talks but not additional prisoner releases. Keep in mind though, Liberman has backed down before. But the possibility that the deal being discussed could bring down the government is very real.
When the possibility of a Pollard release was discussed last month, I predicted the deal wouldn’t happen, this time….I have a strange feeling that a deal will be made–no facts behind it –just a feeling.