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Palestinians wants Israel to implement earlier agreement to free more prisoners

(Xinhua)

08:43, October 20, 2011

RAMALLAH, Oct. 19 (Xinhua) -- The Palestinian leadership will urge the international community to press Israel to implement an old pledge to free more Palestinian prisoners, a Palestinian official said Wednesday.

The Palestinian National Authority's (PNA) intention to press for the release of prisoners came a day after Israel and Palestinian Hamas movement exchanged prisoners.

Saeb Erekat, the senior Palestinian negotiator, said it was agreed two years ago with former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to release another group of Palestinian prisoners. Erekat added that the number of prisoners to be released according to that agreement equals the number of prisoners released as part of the Israel-Hamas deal.

On Tuesday, Israel retrieved Gilad Shalit, the soldier kidnapped by Hamas in 2006 and held hostage since, and in return, released 477 Palestinian prisoners as the first stage of an agreement. Within two months, Israel would free another 550 prisoners, according to the agreement with Hamas, which Egypt has brokered.

Witnessing the achievement that rival Hamas had made, the PNA decided to bring up Olmert's agreement with the United States and the Quartet of Middle East peace mediators, which also include Russia, the European Union and the United Nations.

Erekat is scheduled to meet representatives of the Quartet in Moscow on Oct. 26, he said, noting that the issue of prisoners will be presented at the meeting.

When receiving freed prisoners in the West Bank Tuesday, Abbas revealed that he has an agreement with Israel to free more Palestinian prisoners.

"I don't prattle a secret if I said that there is an agreement between us and the Israeli government to free a group of prisoners similar to this one," Abbas said, noting that nothing will happen before the second stage of Israel-Hamas agreement completes.

Israel holds nearly 7,000 Palestinian prisoners.

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