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PA minister: Israel releases prisoners only when soldiers kidnapped

Ashraf Al-Ajrami, PA Minister of Prisoners:
 "There is no doubt that this is an historical and important event for the Palestinian people, the Lebanese [people] and the Arab nation in general. It is a great victory – in other words, the release of the Arab veteran prisoner, the heroic fighter Samir Kuntar…
It had been hoped that Samir Kuntar would be released earlier. However, the language of the negotiations and the agreements with Israel do not help towards the release of Samir Kuntar [and the release] of 344 prisoners who are still in the prisons… The message that Israel is conveying to the Palestinians and to the Arabs, one way or another, is that the release of prisoners is not attained through negotiations…
Israel has released some prisoners as a gesture, but has left in its prisons the veteran [prisoners], the ill, the women, the children and the commanders, as captives in its hands, as bargaining chips. Israel can forego these prisoners in a deal for an exchange of captives, in other words, if there are Israeli soldiers in captivity. Then Israel would forego these [bargaining] chips. But if there are no Israeli soldiers in captivity, then Israel will delay and delay, and the matter will remain this way for a long time."

Note: On July 16, 2008, Israel and Hezbollah concluded a prisoner exchange deal that released Lebanese terrorist Samir Kuntar from Israeli prison in exchange for the bodies of Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, Israeli soldiers kidnapped and killed by Hezbollah in 2006. Kuntar was serving four life sentences for murdering 4 people, including four year-old girl Einat Haran.

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