Palestine Pressures Israel to Release More Prisoners for Shalit

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By Daniel Distant, Christian Post Reporter
October 27, 2011|10:21 pm

Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas is pressuring Israeli officials to release more prisoners for the return of Gilad Shalit, who had been imprisoned for five years.

According to sources at TIME magazine, Abbas has revealed a "secret, confidential" deal he arranged with former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who was the previous leader before Benjamin Netanyahu.

Abbas claims that the original understanding between the two leaders covered the liberation of the 1,027 prisoners (only 477 of them being released so far). However, previous talks portray the final number to be much larger, with press at the time saying around 2,000.

In Abbas's own words: "[Olmert] said now I cannot because we have a Shalit deal, but I promise you when we conclude Shalit... I will give you... not the same quality, more."

Olmert was accused in multiple cases of corruption during his tenure; he resigned from office in 2009 before concluding Shalit talks and negotiating the captive's release.

"Now the deal is over, and we ask them to fulfill their promises," Abbas says.

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Israeli and Hamas officials have not completed the first exchange though.

According to AP, Israeli officials state that they have the right to choose the remaining 550 detainees to be granted freedom.

Conversely, Hamas representative Saleh Arouri asserts that Israel has already agreed about who should be released. Hamas maintains that precedence should be given to the sick, elderly and inmates who've served longer than 20 years on their sentences already.

Hamas also insists that Israel not release captives whose sentences are almost finished or were found guilty of common law offenses.

To encourage Prime Minister Netanyahu to push the trade through, Abbas said he explained the deal to White House administrators Wednesday.

Approximately six months ago he also met with Daniel Rubenstein- a U.S. diplomat, U.S. Consul General, and a liaison to Hamas representatives- to give details on the swap. Rubenstein said President Obama would give Abbas "confidence building measures to be fulfilled by Netanyahu," regarding Gaza and the release of prisoners.

Abbas reluctantly agreed, but then, he says, "nothing happened."

Reactions differ surrounding the highly publicized prisoner swap.

A Ramallah resident, Adam Nasser, says, "Yesterday was fantastic...we don't want to narrow things down to say Hamas and Fatah and so forth," TIME reports.

For Abbas, the leader of the secular Fatah party, the swap definitely has political significance. Ramallah, a staunchly Fatah-supporting city, raised the green flags and banners of Hamas yesterday.

"I doubt that Netanyahu will do [the deal]," Abbas said, "Of course he didn't give us it in writing, but of course his colleagues write everything."

 

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