Senior Palestinian political sources reported Friday that the Israeli government agreed to release 123 Palestinian political prisoners, held before the Oslo peace agreement was signed between Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) in 1993.The sources informed the Quds Net News Agency that Russia played an essential role by repeatedly urging Israel to release the 123 detainees, and that the U.S.
Administration of President Barack Obama also called on Israel to approve the release in order to facilitate the resumption of the stalled peace talks.
The 123 detainees will be released on several phases starting this coming October and ending in June 2013.
Efforts to ensure the resumption of direct peace talks have been facing deadlocks since September of 2009 when Israel ended a nine-month â€śfreezeâ€ť on settlement construction and expansion activities in the West Bank and in occupied East Jerusalem.
The Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, headed by President Mahmoud Abbas, and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), said that peace talks cannot be resumed as long as Israel is ongoing with illegal settlement construction and expansion activities, and its repeated invasions and arrests.
Also, President Abbas said that detainees held since before 1993 must be released before peace talks can be resumed.
Despite the fact that direct and official peace talks have been halted, Palestinian and Israeli officials held several meetings, including meetings sponsored by Jordan, but the meetings failed to bring about a breakthrough.