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Home >> World
UPDATED: 09:08, September 13, 2006
Abbas demands Israel to free jailed Hamas ministers and lawmakers
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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas demanded Israel on Tuesday to release jailed Hamas lawmakers and ministers before the formation of a new, national-unity Palestinian government.

Abbas made the appeal in a news conference with visiting Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Moratinos in Gaza Strip after their talks.

"Before forming the new government, Israel has to release ministers, deputies and mayors who are held recently," Abbas told the reporters.

Abbas said that he expected meeting with Israeli Prime Minister, adding that if it would take place, it has to be well-prepared and the issue of Palestinian prisoners has to be well-discussed in the meeting.

An Israeli military court on Tuesday ruled that some of the detained Palestinian Hamas officials would be released, but the decision has yet to be implemented until Thursday so that prosecutors could appeal, Israel Defense Forces (IDF) told Xinhua.

Israeli forces took at least 30 Hamas officials, among them Palestinian cabinet ministers and lawmakers, into custody after an Israeli soldier was abducted in the Gaza Strip by Palestinian gunmen in June.

Palestinian Deputy Prime Minister Nasser al-Shaer, arrested in late August, was also among the detainees. Four other ministers have been detained and then released.

Abbas also told reporters that the fate of around 10,000 Palestinians detained in Israel would feature on the agenda of talks at any future meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

On Monday, Abbas and prime minister Ismeil Haneya, head of the Hamas-led government, reached an agreement on forming a national unity cabinet that Haneya is expected to be formally charged with putting together this week.

Palestinians hope the new government could lead to badly needed Western aid flowing back into the depressed territories, and alleviate an unprecedented political and financial crisis since Hamas swept to power in March.

For his part, Moratinos hailed Monday's agreement for a national unity government as "a positive step".

He told the joint news conference that "In principle we are in favour of this national unity government, but we have to study the details so in the next (EU) meeting on Friday in Brussels, we will come to a formal answer."

Source: Xinhua

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