Israeli Negotiator: No Fourth-Stage Prisoner Release

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- Israel won't free a fourth round of Palestinian prisoners, chief Israeli negotiator Tzipi Livni announced Thursday.

The decision follows the Palestinian Authority's move to unilaterally push for recognition as a state at the United Nations, outside of the negotiating process.

Israel agreed last year to release 104 Palestinian terrorists in four stages as an incentive to keep the peace talks going. But the talks had periodically broken down and it wasn't clear that the Palestinians would actually continue talking if Israel released the terrorists.

The Palestinians applied for admission to 15 international conventions this week, which they claimed was in retaliation for the delayed prisoner release.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State John Kerry says he'll continue to encourage the two sides to persist with the talks no matter what.

Knowledgeable Israeli sources said on Friday they didn't believe either side wanted to see a collapse of the process, but at this point the question was how to prevent an escalation.

They did, however, raise the question that if the Palestinians did indeed want to reach an agreement with Israel, why did they turn so quickly to the international body?

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