Israel scraps Palestinian prisoner release, White House says Israeli delay creates challenges

Israel has called off a planned release of Palestinian prisoners meant to advance peacemaking and called for the U.S.-sponsored negotiations to be reviewed, an official briefed on the talks said on Thursday.

The official, who declined to be identified, said Israeli negotiators had informed their Palestinian counterparts of the decision in an overnight meeting held in an effort to avert a collapse of the troubled talks.

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The White House said a delay in a planned release of Palestinian prisoners by Israel creates challenges but that the Middle East peace dialogue remains open.

White House spokesman Jay Carney could not confirm reports that Israel had called off a planned release of Palestinian prisoners that was intended to advance peacemaking.

He said a delay in the release of a fresh round of Palestinian prisoners “creates challenges.”

“The dialogue remains open,” he told reporters.

Reporting By Steve Holland and Mark Felsenthal; Editing by Bill Trott