JERUSALEM, (AP) -Israel said Monday it will consider freeing Palestinian prisoners and releasing millions of dollars in tax rebates to Palestinians if their government moderates its hardline views.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, leader of the moderate Fatah Party, has been trying to persuade the ruling Hamas group to moderate its anti-Israeli views through the formation of a national unity government.
Talks have stalled in recent days, with the U.S. signaling it would not deal with a Hamas-Fatah coalition unless it states clearly that it recognizes Israel, renounces violence and accepts existing peace agreements.
If Hamas softens its position and an Israeli soldier captured in June by Hamas-allied militants is released, Israel would transfer millions of dollars in tax rebates frozen after Hamas came to power and release prisoners, said Israeli Foreign Minister Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev.
“If they do that, then the Israeli commitment is to immediately follow through with substantial confidence building measures that would reinforce a positive momentum,” Regev said.
Regev said Israel is hopeful that Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni will hear in a meeting with Abbas in New York later Monday that Hamas is indeed willing to moderate its views.
“For us the meeting is important,” Regev said. “We don’t want to see stagnation.”