Ramallah: In moves apparently intended to encourage progress in the peace talks sponsored by the US Administration, Israel is to offer Palestinians thousands of new work permits inside Israel. The Israeli government also promises identity cards for thousands of Palestinians who overstayed under the umbrella of family reunification and, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Detainees’ Affairs, has declared specific times for the release of the second, third and fourth patches of pre-Oslo prisoners.

Work permits: The Israeli government will issue 5,000 new work permits for Palestinians from the West Bank, bringing the total number of legal workers to 29,000 workers, according to a senior Palestinian official.

“Once the Israeli Jewish New Year festival is over, the Israeli government will issue 5,000 new work permits for West Bankers,” said Shaher Sa’ad, who heads the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions, Workers and Labor in an interview with Gulf News.

“We have a solid promise from the Israeli side to issue those work permits once the Israeli officials recommence work after the festival.”

Sa’ad said the vast majority of the work permits to be issued will be directed to the construction field, where the Israelis require workers and labourers.

“A total of 8,000 Palestinians have already applied for work permits inside Israel to work in this industry,” he said.

“The number of Palestinian workers heading to Israel to work legally [holding work permits] is on the rise and the number is expected to soon further increase,” he said.

Israel will dispatch the work permits to the Palestinian labour offices in the various West Bank cities so that the confirmed workers can start their work inside Israeli with immediate effect.

Family reunification: The Palestinian General Authority of Civil Affairs has announced that Israel has officially promised the authority that it will grant those who overstayed their entry permits to the West Bank identity cards to become full citizens under family reunification, said a senior Palestinian official.

“We have solid promises from the Israeli side to end the issue of those who entered the West Bank but overstayed,” said Maarouf Zahran, the undersecretary of the authority in an interview with Gulf News.

“Those promises were supposed to cover 5,000 Palestinians living in the West Bank without identity cards and issuing them identity cards was promised to take place after the Eid Al Fitr, but so far nothing has come true of the promise,” he said.

“We hope that following the Jewish New Year celebrations, those promises will come true,” he said.

“We have a total of 150,000 family reunification applications for Palestinians who live outside the Palestinian territories, and have heard nothing about those applications so far,” he said.

“The Israelis do not even address the issue of the family reunification applications who live outside the Palestinian territories,” he stressed.

Prisoner release: The Palestinian Ministry of Detainees’ Affairs has announced specific times for the release of the second, third and fourth batches of pre-Oslo Accord prisoners, at a time when Israeli officials have officially declared that none of those prisoners would be released unless real progress was achieved in the peace talks with the Palestinians.

Eisa Qaraqei, the Palestinian Minister of Detainees Affairs, said in a statement that the second batch of the prisoners released under the old agreement will be freed on October 29, the third batch on December 29 and the fourth and last batch will be released on March 28 of the coming year (2014).

He said those batches will include all Palestinian prisoners imprisoned before the Oslo Accords were signed between the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) and Israel.

Qaraqie said that not a single prisoner will be deported and that every one of them will return to his home town. In August Israel released 26 Palestinian prisoners in the first part of the deal brokered by the US Administration.

The total number of pre-Oslo prisoners to be released is 104.