Locking away the peace-makers

Israel released 26 Palestinian prisoners this week, in keeping with its commitment to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry prior to the current round of peace talks.

The release was a grudging and bad-tempered affair, accompanied by a mini-revolt in the cabinet, right-wing protests and a knee-jerk announcement, only hours after the release, that Israel would renew construction in the occupied territories.

The low-key reception that the released prisoners received on their return to the West Bank was also indicative of the general gloom and pessimism on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian divide. The release was no harbinger of peace; everyone understands that it was solely the result of diplomatic expediency, rather than an indication of progress towards an end to the occupation.