PES President meets Knesset leaders ahead of meeting with President Abbas, as prisoner release row continues


Sergei Stanishev, Simon Peres

Sergei Stanishev, President of the Party of European Socialists (PES), today met with Israeli political leaders in the Knesset (Israeli Parliament). The meetings come ahead of his talks with Palestinian President Abbastomorrow. The PES delegation met Labor Party leader Shelly Yachimovich, and Zahava Gal-On, the party leader of Meretz.

The PES delegation meetings, which had been scheduled for weeks, came as the Israeli Government announced that it would be releasing 26 Palestinian prisoners.

The announcement has stirred some controversy as those on the Israeli right have said that the prisoners released, many of whom were serving life sentences, should not go ahead. Meanwhile leading voices on the Palestinian side, including PLO executive member Hanan Ashrawi have said that the gesture by the Israeli’s should not be construed as  an agreement for renewed building of Israeli settlements.

Speaking from Jerusalem Mr. Stanishev said that; “It is a privilege to be able to spend time on the ground in Israel and Palestine. The situation is fragile, and needs a renewed sense of purpose. I am more convinced that ever that the European Union can play a very constructive role in this regard”.

The PES also met with Israeli President Simon Peres at his official residence, and were given an extensive field visit by UNRWA  representatives.