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Israel halts Palestinian prisoner release as talks falter

Published on Apr 4, 2014 2:58 PM

JERUSALEM (AFP) - Israel has called off the planned release of 26 Palestinian prisoners, placing already embattled peace talks in further jeopardy after both sides took steps Washington called "unhelpful".

Israel's chief negotiator, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, told her Palestinian counterparts on Thursday the planned releases cannot go ahead because the Palestinians had formally requested accession to several international treaties, a source close to the talks told AFP.

The Israelis saw this as a breach of conditions agreed for a resumption of US-brokered peace talks last July, the source said.

As news of the cancellation broke, Palestinians in Gaza fired four rockets into southern Israel, prompting retaliatory air strikes early Friday by Israel.

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