U.S. objected to the release of some Palestinian prisoners


JERUSALEM (JTA) — The United States expressed objections to Israel about some of the Palestinian prisoners in the swap for Gilad Shalit, the State Department said.

The State Department said Tuesday that some of the released prisoners pose a threat to U.S. and Israeli interests.

Israel did not consult with the United States on the swap of more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners, many convicted terrorists, for the captured Israeli soldier, department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters. He said Israel did not decide not to release any specific prisoners due to U.S. objections.

"I don’t think it’s for us to necessarily say whether it’s a good or bad agreement," he said. We’re obviously happy, as we’ve said, that Gilad Shalit is back with his home – back with his family, rather. And moving forward, we want to see progress on the peace talks. We want to see the two parties, the Palestinians and the Israelis, get back into direct negotiations. And that’s where are our focus remains."

Toner called Israel’s negotiations with Hamas, which the United States has identified as a terrorist organization, a "sovereign decision by the Israeli government." The U.S. has called on its allies around the world not to deal with Hamas.

Toner reiterated that the U.S. has called on Hamas to renounce violence, accept existing agreements and recognize Israel’s right to exist in order to be included in discussions about the region. He added that Israel’s successful negotiations with Hamas on the prisoner swap have not moved the U.S. position vis-a-vis negotiating with the organization.

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