European Union officials have called on the Israeli government to release Palestinian prisoners detained before the Oslo Accords, Israeli daily Maariv reported on Wednesday.
The Hebrew language paper said that EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton is to arrive in the region next week to pressure Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to release 123 prisoners detained before the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993.
The measures are meant to encourage the Palestinians to continue negotiations in Amman, the paper reported, with the issue having been raised in previous Quartet meetings.
The exploratory discussions began on Jan. 3 and followed a long break in negotiations after President Mahmoud Abbas suspended talks 15 months ago over Israel’s expansion of Jewish-only settlements in the occupied West Bank.
The “Quartet” of international peace mediators – the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations wants the two sides to state their positions on the borders and security arrangements of a future “two-state solution” by Jan. 26 to help open the door to a resumption of full negotiations.
US officials have signaled that the Jan. 26 target date for the two sides to exchange proposals could slide.