Abbas demands release of all Palestinian prisoners
Speaking in Mecca, PA president says peaceful solution to conflict will not be reached until all 11,000 Palestinian prisoners are released by Israel; condemns Hamas for blocking Fatah men from making hajj pilgrimage
As Israel prepares to release 230 Palestinian prisoners, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is claiming that a peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict cannot be reached without the release of all 11,000 prisoners currently imprisoned in Israel.
Speaking in the city of Mecca on Tuesday in honor of the hajj pilgrimage, Abbas said, "I would like to take this time to announce to our people that in a short while a small number of prisoners will be released. However as we all know, over 11,000 prisoners are currently suffering behind bars in Israeli prisons.
"We ask Allah that they all be released. When we negotiate with Israel we speak of core issues such as Jerusalem, the refugees, the borders, the settlements, and more. There is also the issue of the prisoners so there will not be a solution without their release."
Abbas also reiterated his condemnation of Hamas, calling members of the organization "infidels" for blocking Fatah operatives from leaving the Gaza Strip in order to complete the pilgrimage to Mecca.
The Palestinian president appealed to citizens of Gaza and said, "Be patient. We are aware of the deprivation that has befallen you. Hamas has previously prevented worshippers from entering mosques, and now it is preventing them from completing the hajj.
"But this deprivation in which you are living in Gaza will soon end and the siege will be lifted forever, praise Allah." Abbas then proceeded to condemn "the ongoing crimes of the settlers in the West Bank".
He slammed the attacks against the Palestinian olive harvesters and the residents of Hebron, and called on the world to do the same. He also called on the Israeli government to end these attacks, as the party responsible for deterring the settlers from their current behavior.