Israel Won’t Free Palestinian Prisoners Ahead Of Muslim Holiday

Seems that Israel recalcitrance has reared its ugly head again. What do they have to hold Palestinian prisoners anyway?

JERUSALEM Dec 29, 2006 (AP)— Israel has rebuffed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ request to free Palestinian prisoners ahead of a major Muslim holiday, insisting that Palestinian militants first agree to release a captured Israeli soldier.

The decision was at odds with recent overtures by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to bolster the moderate Abbas in the eyes of the Palestinian people, who voted the militantly anti-Israel Hamas group into power nearly one year ago.

Separately, the Yediot Ahronot newspaper reported that Olmert was prepared to hold back-channel talks on a blueprint for a final peace deal, as Abbas has proposed. Olmert spokeswoman Miri Eisin had no comment on the report.

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