Period: March 2014


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Sunday, March 2, 2014 [...] Israeli sources revealed that Obama will ask Netanyahu and Abbas about their future plans in case of the failure of the negotiations, and will give them the option to cooperate with the American plan, or face isolation and live with the difficult reality which awaits them if the US abandoned the peace process.
Netanyahu continues to insist on Palestinian recognition of the Jewish identity of the state of Israel, and the presence of Israeli troops in the Jordan Valley, as well as rejecting the division of Jerusalem. Netanyahu also wants to adjust West Bank borders to integrate large Israeli settlements into Israeli territory, and rejects the return of refugees.
Palestinians insist on the sharing Jerusalem and refuse to recognize Israel as a Jewish state—which they see as precluding any return of Palestinian refugees to what is now Israeli territory—and also insist on the removal of all Israeli forces from the Jordan Valley.
It is likely that Obama’s efforts will be focused on Jerusalem and a declaration of the Jewish identity of Israel, in order to find a compromise.
Senior Palestinian sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Asharq Al-Awsat that the way to resolve the crisis would be to announce that Jerusalem was the capital of both states, with an indication to Israel’s right to acquire international recognition as a Jewish state, which would implicitly also mean the recognition of the state of Palestine.
Kerry previously said both parties had the right—after signing the framework agreement—to object to, or express reservations about, any articles and have them registered, in an attempt to resolve the dilemma of Jerusalem and national identity. Whole article:

Thursday, March 6, 2014 Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard hospitalized By GIL HOFFMAN The Jerusalem Post
Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard was hospitalized on Wednesday night after a deterioration of his medical condition.
Pollard had been suffering from various medical ailments and has suffered from extreme pain for an extended period of time.
Sources close to him hope to receive more information when it is morning in United States.
The long list of ailments that he has suffered from over the years include diabetes, nausea, dizziness, blackouts and ongoing issues with his gall bladder, kidneys, sinuses, eyes and feet. He also suffers from Meniere’s disease, which causes him to lose consciousness and fall without warning.
Last month, thousands of people chanted “Free Pollard now” and “Enough is enough” in a demonstration for the release of Pollard opposite the US Embassy in Tel Aviv. Continued:

Reference: Pollard is an American citizen born in the United States is also a tribalistic Jew who sold out his country on the behalf of a foreign state.
Jonathan Pollard not only sold U.S. national security secrets to Israel (with Netanyahu as the bagman) and then sold the same U.S. national security secrets to the then Soviet Union.
What was sold to the Soviet Union were U.S. computer codes on a U.S. nuclear first strike vs the USSR, which now the government of Israel possesses making the United States Military a guinea pig for Israel's own nuclear arsenal.

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- March 6, 2014 Egyptian security services have started to collect information about thousands of Hamas members who were granted Egyptian citizenship during the rule of ousted president Mohamed Mursi, according to Egyptian media.
Egypt's Day Seven news website reported that Egyptian authorities plan revoke the citizenship of 13,757 Hamas members for being "affiliated to an offshoot of the terrorist group the Muslim Brotherhood."
Egyptian authorities are investigating whether Hamas members have been involved in what they describe as "terrorist attacks," adding that the prime minister has the right to revoke the citizenship of Hamas members without a court ruling if it is deemed that they endanger public security.
The Egyptian news site blamed Mursi for facilitating the entry of Hamas supporters into Egypt and granting them citizenship.
On Tuesday, an Egyptian court banned the activities of Hamas and ordered its assets seized.
"The Egyptian judge who made the decision did not bring a single evidence incriminating Hamas. Thus, the movement considers the Egyptian decision a pure political decision rather than a judicial decision, and that decision serves the Israeli occupation," a Hamas official said following the ruling. Continued:

San Diego Jewish World - JNS news - March 7, 2014
( Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke with U.S. President Barack Obama about the issue of convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard’s release when the two leaders met March 3 at the White House, Netanyahu said in an interview with Israel Hayom that will be published on Sunday.
“Pollard shouldn’t be in jail or in the hospital,” Netanyahu said. “The time has come to release him. I spoke about this with Obama.”
The Free Pollard Campaign reported Thursday that Pollard, in his 29th year in U.S. prison, was hospitalized Wednesday after his medical condition deteriorated. He has been suffering from various pains and underwent surgery for an unspecified medical problem during his hospitalization. Over the last year, Pollard’s medical issues have caused him to lose consciousness several times.
Pollard’s wife Esther said, “I received word of his hospitalization, but they did not give me any more details. The lack of information is very difficult. It really drives you crazy to go through this after 29 years.”

Hamodia Staff - Hamodia [NY] - March 10, 2014 - Jerusalem - The ordeal of Jonathan Pollard continued over the weekend as he returned to his cell in a federal prison in North Carolina to recover from surgery.
Pollard was hospitalized on Wednesday morning suffering from extreme pain due to malfunctioning of his kidneys, gall bladder and intestines.
“He is very weak,” his wife Esther said after talking with him by phone. “He is totally drained and worn out. When I asked him how he was feeling, he groaned and whispered ‘Wretched.’”
Esther Pollard described her first conversation with her husband after the surgery as very alarming, because of the difficulty he had speaking due to the pain.
“Mostly all he was able to do was to answer yes or no to my questions,” she said. “He was not able to speak more than a few words.”
In their next conversation a day later, he was able to speak more, though he was still in a lot of pain and she could hear the strain in his voice. Continued:

By Agencies - :CAIRO — Jordan Times 10 Mar.’14: - Arab foreign ministers on Sunday[0 Mar.] rejected Israel’s demands that the Palestinians recognise it as a Jewish state, saying such a move would undermine the rights of Palestinian refugees.
In a resolution released at the headquarters of the Arab League in Cairo, the foreign ministers called the issue of Palestinian refugees an integral part of a comprehensive and just peace. It blamed Israel for the floundering of peace negotiations, The Associated Press reported.
The Arab statement offers strong backing to Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, who said publicly last week he will never recognise Israel as a Jewish state despite facing strong international pressure. Abbas did not identify who is pressuring him.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said last week the Palestinians must recognise Israel as a Jewish state to show they are serious about peace. It was the latest sign that despite seven months of mediation efforts by US Secretary of State John Kerry, wide gaps remain between the two sides.
Abbas is due to meet US President Barack Obama in Washington on March 17, as part of US efforts to press both sides. Abbas has said that the Palestine Liberation Organisation recognised the state of Israel in 1993 and that this is sufficient.
The seven-page Arab resolution on the Palestinian issue said it rejects “the demand by Israel and some international parties to identify Israel as a Jewish state, which aims to annul the right of return and compensation for Palestinian refugees”. Continued: scroll all the way down:

Al Arabya News 12 Mar’14: Agence France Presse, Tehran :”Russian. . .that they would not break U.N. sanctions”
Russia has signed a preliminary agreement to build at least two more nuclear power plants in the Iranian port city of Bushehr, Iran's official IRNA news agency reported on Wednesday[12 Mar.].
The deal was reached during a visit to Tehran on Tuesday[11 Mar.] by a senior official of Russia's state atomic energy agency Rosatom, IRNA said.
"Iran and Russia reached a preliminary agreement to build at least two new nuclear power plants," Iranian Atomic Energy Organisation spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi told the news agency.
The two new 1,000 megawatt plants will be built alongside the existing power station in Bushehr, which was also built by Russia, Kamalvandi said.
Further talks will be held on technical and financial aspects of the project but a final agreement is expected to be signed "very soon," he added.
Iran, which still faces tight Western sanctions on its oil and banking sectors despite a landmark agreement reached with major powers in November on its controversial nuclear program, is expected to fund the project on a barter basis.
Iran's ambassador to Russia, Mehdi Sanaei, said last month that the close trading partners have been negotiating Iran's delivery of hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil per day in return for Russian goods and services, including the planned new nuclear plants. Continued:

Lawmakers give government time until Tuesday to respond to their demands
Amman, March 12 (Petra) - The Lower house of Parliament on Wednesday gave the government time until next Tuesday to respond to its demand with regards to the killing of Jordanian judge Raed Zuaiter by Israeli soldiers on Monday.
During a session held on Wednesday, the MPs said withdrawal of confidence from the government is linked to the efficacy of its response to the MP's demands during the House's session next Tuesday.
Lawmakers approved a proposal to expel the Israeli ambassador to the Kingdom and to withdraw the Jordanian ambassador to Israel as well as release Ahmad Daqamseh, a Jordanian soldier, who has been in jail for 17 years for killing female Israeli students in the Jordan Valley.
The House also approved a proposal to contact the concerned authorities to release all Jordanian and Palestinians prisoners in Israeli jails.
They also voted for carrying out an investigation, that would involve Jordanian experts, into the killing of the Jordanian judge and punish the perpetrators.
The MPs rejected a proposal that called for reopening Hamas’ offices in Jordan but approved another proposal that called on the government to take an initiative to achieve reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah.

March 20, 2014 The Mossad Brings to a Conclusion the Affair Regarding Iranian Jews who went Missing in the 1990's (Communicated by the Prime Minister's Media Adviser)
The Institute for Intelligence and Special Operations (i.e. the Mossad; has brought to a conclusion the affair regarding the Iranian Jews who have been missing since the 1990's. Eight of the eleven families of Iranian Jews who went missing in the 1990's received notification from the Intelligence and Heritage Commemoration Center that their loved ones were murdered while en route to immigrating to Israel.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu charged the Mossad with deepening the investigation into the disappearance of eleven Iranian Jews who tried to escape from Iran during the 1990's. Mossad Director Tamir Pardo took up the mission. The Mossad led to an intelligence breakthrough that enabled the issue to be brought to its conclusion.
The task of tying up the loose ends was assigned to David Meidan, the Prime Minister's coordinator for captives and those missing, who had served as the Prime minister's personal representative in the negotiations for the return of soldier Gilad Shalit. Meidan retired from the Mossad approximately two years ago after 35 years' service in command and operational posts in Israel and abroad. Continued

March 24, 2014 | Ryan Jones - Some 150 Israeli Arabic-speaking Christians on Sunday demonstrated outside the European Union mission in Tel Aviv, demanding that the international community stop nitpicking against Israel and start combatting the severe persecution of Christians everywhere else in the Middle East.
“Nations, organizations and international missions are quick to raise an accusing finger against Israel at every opportunity,” said Father Gabriel Nadaf, spiritual father of the Israeli Christian Recruitment Forum, which organized the rally.
Those same nations and organizations “don’t life a finger against the ethnic cleansing of Christians in the Middle East,” the priest continued.
Father Nadaf went on to explain that from Syria to Egypt to Iraq to the Palestinian Authority, Christians on a daily basis suffer intimidation, harassment, desecration, coercion, torture, rape, physical abuse and murder. “According to the statistics, a Christian is murdered every five minutes [in the Middle East], and the Western world is silent about this,” he lamented.
In messages posted to its Facebook page during the Tel Aviv rally, the Israeli Christian Recruitment Forum insisted that “there is no place but Israel that is safe for Christians in the Middle East!”
While the rally was largely ignored by the mainstream Western media, the Israeli press took great interest, and forum spokesman Shadi Khalloul, a veteran of the IDF, was interviewed by various television and print media outlets.

By Gil Hoffman - The Jerusalem Post - March 24, 2014 - The Palestinians have said they would leave the negotiating table if the Israeli Arab prisoners are not released. Palestinian and Israeli Arab officials said Monday that they would not oppose a possible US-brokered deal in which Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard be released as an American gesture to help the Israeli cabinet pass a proposal to free 14 Israeli Arabs convicted of terrorist acts.
Israel committed to release the fourth and final round of Palestinian prisoners Saturday night. But American mediators incorrectly told their Palestinian interlocutors that Israel would agree to release 14 Israeli Arabs as part of the deal.
The Palestinians have said they would leave the negotiating table if the Israeli Arab prisoners are not released. There is currently no majority in the Israeli cabinet to release them. But the release of the Israeli Arabs would pass easily if Pollard was included.
Kadoura Fares, who directs the Palestinian Prisoners' Club, said releasing Pollard could be a positive step.
"I never opposed Pollard's release," he said. "We think it could be something good that could contribute to progress between the two sides."
Ashraf al-Ajrami, a former minister for prisoner affairs in the Palestinian Authority, said Pollard had nothing to do with the Palestinians but that they would not interfere if he was included in a deal.
"If the US wants to release him as a goodwill gesture we will not oppose it," he said. Hadash MK Hanna Sweid said Israeli Arabs would also not be against such a deal. Continued

Reuters, Thursday 27 Mar 2014 - Saudi Arabia's Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz, a former intelligence chief in the conservative Islamic kingdom, has been appointed deputy crown prince, Saudi state television reported on Thursday, making it more likely he will one day become king.
The appointment makes Muqrin, the youngest son of the kingdom's founder King Abdulaziz al-Saud, next in line to succeed in the world's top oil exporter and birthplace of Islam after his half-brothers King Abdullah and Crown Prince Salman.
"King Abdullah appoints Prince Muqrin as king in case the positions of king and crown prince become vacant," al-Arabiya television said, quoting a statement from the royal court.
The announcement gives more assurance to the kingdom's long-term sucession process at a moment when sees itself as being a lone island of stability amid conflict and political turmoil across the Middle East.
King Abdullah turned 90 last year and Crown Prince Salman is 78. Muqrin was 70 last year.
Muqrin already holds the position of second deputy prime minister, a role to which he was appointed a year ago and was traditionally but informally seen as being equivalent to crown prince in waiting.

April 1, 2014 MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis Series Report No.1080 U.S. Secretary Of State Kerry In New And Unprecedented Statement: 'President Obama And I Are Both Extremely Welcoming And Grateful For The Fact That [Iranian] Supreme Leader [Khamenei] Has Issued A [Nonexistent] Fatwa' Banning Nuclear Weapons
In a March 22, 2014 Voice of America interview marking Norooz, the Persian New Year, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said that he and President Obama were "grateful" that Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei had issued a
fatwa banning the possession, development, and use of nuclear weapons. The following are excerpts from the interview. "Question: Supreme Leader Khamenei, who is [sic] fatwa is mentioned, is being mentioned again in the President's Norwuz message, [but he] still says Americans are not trustworthy. How important is this fatwa in your opinion, the nuclear fatwa?
"John Kerry: Well, I have great respect for a fatwa. A fatwa is a very highly regarded message of religious importance. And when any fatwa is issued, I think people take it seriously, and so do we, even though it's not our practice. But we have great respect for what it means. And but the trick here the trick the art, the requirement here, is to translate the
fatwa into a legally binding, globally recognized, international understanding. And so I hope that's achievable. And I think it's a good starting place. And President Obama and I both are extremely welcoming and grateful for the fact that the supreme leader has issued a fatwa declaring that [emphasis MEMRI's]. That's an important statement. But now we need to take that and put it into a sort of understandable legal structure, if you will, that goes beyond an article of faith within a religious belief or a process into a more secular process that everybody can attach a meaning to."


Date: Thursday, 27-Mar-2014 19:37:19 ['N' comments: Watching the Pollard situation for decades (!!!), maybe most of my life (!!!), this is absolutely earth-shattering. O & team must be scraping the bottom and have nothing else to leverage the situation, to give up this one. Wow.]
The United States has proposed freeing Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard in a trade-off deal in which Israel would agree to proceed with the next round of prisoner releases, including Israeli Arab prisoners, and the Palestinian Authority would agreed to extend the current peace talks, Israel’s Army Radio reported Wednesday.
It said the offer had been conveyed to Israel and the PA, but there was no official confirmation. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki was quoted telling journalists accompanying Secretary of State John Kerry to a meeting with PA President Mahmoud Abbas Wednesday morning that there were currently no plans to release Pollard, who is serving a life sentence.
In exchange for Pollard, Israel would agree to release 26 prisoners, among them around 20 Arab Israelis, and the Palestinians would agree to continue talks until the end of 2014, according to Army Radio.
Kerry reportedly made the offer after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made clear his intentions to forgo the final stage of a prisoner release, previously agreed to as a bargaining chip for starting peace talks this past July, unless Abbas agreed to extend the talks past the upcoming April deadline.
Right-wing Israeli politicians have objected to the prisoner release, particularly letting inmates who are Israeli citizens go, but the inclusion of Pollard in the deal would likely help bring them aboard.
Pollard, a US naval analyst, was jailed by the US in 1987 after being caught spying for Israel. Successive Israeli governments have lobbied Washington for his release, with no success. He is due to be paroled late next year.
Israel’s Economy Minister Naftali Bennett (Jewish Home) said he was “skeptical” over the reported deal.
“I don’t believe it will happen,” he said.
MK Miri Regev (Likud) said that while she wanted Pollard to go free, she did not believe Israel should release murderers.
Kerry cut short a trip to Europe to meet Abbas in Amman in a last-ditch effort to salvage the peace talks, which are due to end next month. He was also set to speak to Netanyahu.
Kerry’s trip aims “to continue to narrow the gaps between the parties,” Psaki said on Tuesday.
His unexpected visit — setting off from the Italian capital just hours after arriving — came as fresh tensions rose over the peace talks, which Kerry is struggling to keep on track beyond an April 29 deadline.
Negotiations also risked being waylaid by a row over the release of prisoners by Israel.

Pastor Paul Begley of Indiana will explain why the Malaysian Missing Plane may be the cause of war

By Allyn Fisher-Ilan - JERUSALEM Sun Mar 23, 2014 11:09am EDT (Reuters) - Israeli diplomats launched an unprecedented strike on Sunday, forcing the complete closure of embassies around the world as they escalated a dispute over pay, officials said.
The industrial action has already threatened to postpone a visit by Pope Francis to Israel planned for May - one of 25 trips by foreign officials affected by a work slowdown the diplomats began on March 5 when wage talks broke down.
By escalating the action to a full strike - the first by the diplomatic corps since the country's establishment in 1948 - the diplomats will close all of Israel's 102 missions abroad, paralyzing most diplomatic work with other countries and the United Nations. "We are completely shutting down the (foreign ministry) office and missions abroad. This is the first time ever," ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said. Another ministry official told Reuters: "As of now, the foreign ministry doesn't exist. It's not possible even to submit complaints".

By HERB KEINON - 03/23/2014 15:50 - Foreign Ministry - Protest banners on Foreign Ministry building in Jerusalem: The fight for home starts abroad Photo: Courtesy Foreign Ministry’s workers committee declared a full-fledged strike on Sunday, closing the ministry and all the country’s embassies and consulates around the world for the first time. The strike is the latest development in a nearly two-year-old work dispute that the workers declared for improved salaries and work conditions.
Related: Netanyahu cancels planned trip to Latin America due to Foreign Ministry workers dispute
Seven months of mediation efforts exploded on March 4 when the workers rejected a Finance Ministry proposal.
The workers then resumed crippling labor measures that had been put on hold during the mediation period.
EMAIL RESPONSE: March 23, 2014: "The Foreign Ministry will be completely closed for all activity, including Israel's 103 embassies around the world from New Zealand, through ...
In time of war, a nation will close its embassy in those nations in which it is at war. Since Gods chosen people are at war with the entire human race, it should come as no surprise to anyone that they are closing their embassies around the world. This is probably the prelude to all out conflict. ].

[Ednote: as usual, that's how they get dollars from the US. Bad behavior gets rewarded endofnote]
By IBRAHIM BARZAK - From Associated Press - March 13, 2014 2:03 PM EST
JERUSALEM (AP) — The Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad said Thursday it had agreed to halt a wave of rocket fire on Israel, signaling an end to the heaviest fighting between the sides since 2012, though soon after the announcement seven rockets fired from Gaza exploded inside Israel.
The Islamic Jihad denied it launched the attack and it wasn't immediately unclear who fired the rockets. Cease-fire declarations have not always been honored by militants and the barrage raised doubts about the cease-fire offer made by Islamic Jihad.
The Israeli military said militants fired at least seven rockets Thursday from Gaza, with most coming in the evening after the cease-fire claim. It said its "Iron Dome" defense system intercepted one rocket.
Israeli officials previously refused to confirm any cease-fire deal was in place.
In two days of violence, militants fired some 70 rockets into Israel, while Israel has carried out a series of airstrikes in Gaza. No serious casualties have been reported.

By MAGGIE MICHAEL - From Associated Press - March 24, 2014 3:42 PM EST - CAIRO (AP) — An Egyptian court Monday sentenced to death nearly 530 suspected backers of ousted President Mohammed Morsi over a deadly attack on a police station, capping a swift, two-day mass trial in which defense attorneys were not allowed to present their case.
It was the largest single batch of death sentences in the world in recent years, Amnesty International said. The U.S. State Department said it "defies logic" that so many people could get a fair trial in just two sessions.
The verdicts by a court in the city of Minya are subject to appeal and are likely to be overturned.
But the outcome stunned human rights activists and raised fears that the rule of law is being swept away in the crackdown waged by the military-backed interim government against Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood since his overthrow last summer.
The government is conducting a series of mass trials of Brotherhood supporters, some with hundreds of defendants.
"It turns the judiciary in Egypt from a tool for achieving justice into an instrument for taking revenge," said Mohammed Zarie, a Cairo-based human rights lawyer.
Egypt's Foreign Ministry brushed off the criticism, saying in a statement that the judiciary is "entirely independent and is not influenced in any way by the executive branch of government."

Israel's Supreme Court will hear evidence that officials committed war crimes in Lebanon and Gaza.
Jonathan Cook Last updated: 29 Mar 2014 12:58 - Nazareth, Israel - For the first time Israel's Supreme Court is set to consider evidence on April 2 that senior Israeli political and military officials committed war crimes in relation to major military operations in Gaza and Lebanon.
Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, the current justice minister, are among the high-level figures accused of breaking the laws of war when they launched attacks on Lebanon in 2006, and on Gaza in the winter of 2008-09.
The allegations have been levelled by Marwan Dalal, the only Israeli lawyer to have served as a senior prosecutor in one of the international criminal courts at The Hague in the Netherlands.
Dalal, who spent three years as a prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, belongs to Israel's Palestinian minority, which comprises a fifth of the country's population.
He said he had based his petition to the court on "strong factual and legal findings" from public sources, including the reports of Israeli official inquiries.
His evidence includes statements from senior Israeli officials in which they appear to implicate themselves in actions - including killing, collective punishment and attacks on civilian infrastructure - not justified by military necessity. Such acts are breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention as well as Israeli law.
Dalal will argue before the court that the Israeli police are required to investigate the evidence in preparation for possible indictments for war crimes.
"The evidence is in the public realm and obliges Israeli prosecutors to order investigations," he said. "The failure to do so is unreasonable conduct and the court must rectify the matter."
Official 'impunity'
The action is the first brought by Dalal under the auspices of Grotius, an organisation he founded last year to collect information on war crimes. Although Grotius' focus is on Israel and the occupied territories, it has also provided information to the special tribunal for Lebanon, investigating the killing in 2005 of Lebanon's Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri. Continued:

Israel tells Palestinians it will not release fourth group of prisoners by March 29 deadline, jeopardising peace talks.
Last updated: 28 Mar 2014 12:19
Irael had made a commitment to release a final group of 26 veteran Palestinian prisoners on March 29 [AFP]
Israel is to renege on a commitment to release a fourth group of Palestinian prisoners on Saturday, a move that delivers another blow to US-brokered peace talks.
A senior Palestinian official, Jibril Rajub, told AFP news agency on Friday that Israel had informed the Palestinians via US mediators that it would not abide by its commitment to release the prisoners on Saturday, March 29.
"Israel has refused to commit to the names that were agreed upon of prisoners held by Israel since before the 1993 Oslo agreements," Rajub said.
The Palestinians have threatened to walk away from the peace talks if the prisoners are not released.
Israeli officials had no immediate comment.
Final release blocked
Under the US-brokered deal that relaunched the peace talks in July, Israel said it would release 104 Arabs held since before the 1993 Oslo peace accords in exchange for the Palestinians not pressing their statehood claims at the United
Israel has so far freed 78 prisoners, but members of the cabinet said they would block the final release if the Palestinians refused to extend the peace talks beyond their April 29 deadline.
The peace process has teetered on the brink of collapse, with Washington fighting an uphill battle to get the two sides to agree to a framework for continued negotiations until the end of the year.
Israel's move follows an announcement by Arab leaders on Wednesday which blamed Israel for a lack of progress in the talks, and said that they would never recognise Israel as a Jewish state.
The Arab League issued a communique at the end of a two-day summit that rejected "the continuation of settlements, Judaisation of Jerusalem, and attacks in its Muslim and Christian shrines".
US Secretary of State John Kerry then met Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Amman on Wednesday night in a bid to salvage the talks.
Kerry brought Israel and the Palestinians back into negotiations on July 29, 2013, after a three-year gap, and said at the time that "our objective will be to achieve a final status agreement over the course of the next nine months".
As the April deadline approaches, US officials have scaled back their ambitions, saying they are now trying to forge a "framework for negotiations" by then.

By Phyllis Bennis is a Fellow of the Institute for Policy Studies and of the Transnational Institute in Amsterdam.
The deal has been discussed since Shalit was captured in 2006, now the time has come for 1028 families to be reunited.
Like so many other diplomatic and political initiatives in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the recent announcement of a new prisoner release is based on the same solution that has been proposed dozens of times before - only to collapse because the time, and often Israeli political will, wasn't right.
In this case, the separate announcements made by Hamas leader Khaled Meshal and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, asserted that Hamas would release Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, captured by Hamas in 2006, while Israel would release 1,027 Palestinian prisoners, some of whom have been in jail for decades.
As Tony Karon wrote in Time magazine's blog: "Win-win outcomes are all too rare in the Middle East, but the agreement that will see Hamas free captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in exchange for a reported 1,000 Palestinian prisoners will allow each of its stakeholders to claim victory."
That arrangement has been bandied about for years. The fact that it now appears imminent (though its success cannot be claimed until all the prisoners walk out of jail) reflects two seemingly contradictory realities: Israel, the occupying power, continues to control the lives of the occupied Palestinian population, and new regional and international conditions are challenging Israel in dramatic ways.
Asymmetry of power Continued:

Heated Jerusalem peace talks end in impasse Published today (updated) 03/04/2014 12:25
JERUSALEM (Ma'an - Independent Palestinian news agency) -- A long and heated meeting between Palestinian and Israeli negotiators in Jerusalem ended early Thursday without any signs of bringing both sides back to the negotiating table.
Palestinian sources told Ma'an that the nine-hour meeting with US Special Envoy Martin Indyk was attended by PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat, Head of Palestinian intelligence Majid Faraj, and Israeli negotiators Tzipi Livni and Yitzhak Molcho.
The sources described the meeting as a "fierce political battle", with Martin Indyk struggling to control heated exchanges between both sides.
Erekat reportedly told the Israeli side that "we are here to negotiate in the name of the UN-recognized State of Palestine, not in the name of a Palestinian Authority whose inputs and outputs are controlled by Israel."
Israeli negotiators responded by threatening to put "endless" sanctions on the Palestinians, the sources said.
During the heated exchanges, US special envoy Martin Indyk reiterated his support for Israel's security.
Majid Faraj responded by stressing that the Palestinians were there for "political, not security" talks and to negotiate about Jerusalem as the future capital of an independent Palestinian state.Continued:

Published today (updated) 04/04/2014 00:42 BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Palestinian negotiators have posed seven conditions that must be met by Israel to continue negotiations beyond April 29.
The conditions were announced during a 9-hour meeting Wednesday with Israeli negotiators in Jerusalem, a high-ranking source in the PLO told Ma’an.
The following are the conditions, according to the source.
1. To receive a written letter from Israel's premier recognizing the Palestinian borders of 1967 with East Jerusalem as its capital.
2. The release of Palestinian prisoners who former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert agreed to free including Marwan Barghouthi, Ahmad Saadat, and Fuad Shweiki.
3. Implementing a border-crossing agreement and lifting the siege on Gaza.
4. The return of exiles deported in the 2002 Bethlehem siege.
5. Stopping settlement activity in Jerusalem, and opening closed institutions in Jerusalem.
6. Allowing the reunification of 15,000 Palestinians with their families.
7. Israel refraining from entering areas under Palestinian Authority control for arrests or killings, and granting the PA some control over Area C.
In a meeting with Fatah officials, chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat and central committee member Mahmoud al-Aloul said that submitting applications to join 15 international organizations was a small step taken by the Palestinians to regain their rights.
Erekat told Fatah officials that the 15 treaties and conventions were among 63 others the PA was considering after consideration by 27 international law experts.
Erekat added that joining the 15 treaties and conventions did not require the vote of the United Nations, and he assured the Fatah officials that Palestine will soon be a member and will soon receive diplomatic immunity and have 134 embassies in the countries that recognize it.
President Mahmoud Abbas, meanwhile, told Kerry that he "does not care if he is killed, and will not refrain from joining international organizations," Erekat was quoted saying.
He also said that PA negotiators told Kerry that they did not take this step to clash with anyone, but to demand their legitimate rights.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netenyahu’s strategy, he said, is to have the Palestinian Authority without actual authority, occupation without cost, and Palestine without Gaza.