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Israel traps Palestinians in negotiations with prisoner card

Israel is using the release of Palestinian prisoners as a means to keep the Palestinians in peace talks that are going nowhere.
Palestinians wait for the release of prisoners from Israeli jails, near Erez crossing between Israel and northern Gaza Strip October 30, 2013. Israel freed 26 Palestinian prisoners on Wednesday, the second stage of a limited amnesty designed to help U.S.-sponsored peace talks that have been dogged by divisions on both sides. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem (GAZA - Tags: POLITICS TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) - RTX14T9I

One of the problems of political negotiations without a clear reference point is that the parties, especially the stronger party, can change the rules of the game at will. And the absence of a neutral referee on the field allows such a strong party to get away with regularly moving the goal posts.

This is exactly what is happening in the Palestinian-Israeli talks. It began with the Israelis refusing to accept the principle of the 1967 borders and suspend settlement expansion as a reference point, and continued with Israeli negotiators banning US officials from entering the negotiation room.

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