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Israeli families urge rejection of prisoner exchange

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Israeli families urge rejection of prisoner exchange


Families of Israelis killed in attacks by Palestinians have appealed to their government not to release those with blood on their hands. Ruling Palestinian group Hamas has provided Tel Aviv with a list of around 1,400 Palestinians it wants freed from Israeli prisons in exchange for the release of an Israeli soldier. But the head of an Israeli victims’ association told a press conference in Jerusalem that accepting the deal would lead to more violence and more Israelis being taken hostage.

Political sources in Israel say the government is ‘disappointed’ with the list and unable to agree to it in its current form. The Palestinian Prime Minister, Hamas’ Ismail Haniyeh, insists he’s serious about finalising the deal, adding that ‘the ball is now in Israel’s court’.

Commentators say the safe release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit is crucial in peace talks. Private Shalit was seized by Hamas gunmen 10 months ago. But Hamas’ list contains some high profile figures, such as Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is likely to discuss the issue in talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, scheduled for next week.

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