The Palestinian Authority's decision to postpone a vote on the Goldstone report last week is the last straw for many, sparking protests in the West Bank and Gaza.
The swap boosts hopes on both sides that a broader prisoner-exchange deal could free Sergeant Shalit and end Israel's blockade of Gaza.
Israel has agreed to release 20 female Palestinian prisoners in exchange for a video of Cpl. Gilad Shalit, who is being held in Gaza.
Hamas agreed 'in principle' to an Egyptian proposal Monday that would give Palestinians a united front in peace talks with Israel.
A rarity in the mideast, the political show spares no one – but even President Mahmoud Abbas is chuckling.
At the UN Tuesday, Obama appeared to drop his demand that Israel freeze settlement growth as a precondition to negotiations by calling on it to “restrain” activity instead.
After trilateral meetings Tuesday, Obama said he would continue to push Israeli and Palestinian leaders. Critics say it is a waste of time, others say US pressure is the only hope for reigniting the peace talks.
Palestinian polls show Abbas gaining significant support in recent months over Hamas, which harshly criticized his willingness to meet the Israeli leader without a settlement freeze in place.
A majority of Israelis support a two-state solution, including steps such as a settlement freeze.