Abbas: No plans to work with Hizbullah

"Our brothers in Lebanon have their own special case.. and we have [ours]."

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July 29, 2006 15:27
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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Saturday his government has no intention of teaming up with Shi'ite Hizboullah on negotiating the release of Palestinian and Lebanese prisoners held by Israel. Israel launched attacks in Gaza after Palestinian Hamas-linked operatives crossed from Gaza into Israel and snatched Cpl. Gilad Shalit on June 25. As that conflict raged, Hizbullah grabbed two soldiers in a July 12 cross-border raid, sparking the current violent conflict raging in the North of Israel and in Lebanon. Hamas had raised the possibility this week of teaming up with Hizbullah to negotiate terms to release of Palestinian and Lebanese prisoners in Israel in exchange for the three IDF soldiers. But Abbas said the situations were too different to coordinate a release. "Our brothers in Lebanon have their own special case ... and we have our special case," he said while in Alexandria to meet with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. "This is a path and that is another path." Abbas said Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had been working with Mubarak in the Hamas case and suggested for the first time that Israel had indicated it would agree to release prisoners first in order to secure the freedom of the soldier being held. "Olmert promised President Mubarak to release the Palestinian prisoners ... the solution of the captive issue would not be simultaneous," Abbas said. "The (Israeli) captive will be released in return for freeing a number of Palestinian prisoners with specified standards." Abbas added the deal had to include an unspecified number of women, children, the sick, the elderly and people who have spent longer than 15 to 20 years in prison. "We don't want the Israelis to do what they had done before ... when they released 400 people, most of them had their sentences expired," he said.


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