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Israeli PM rejects Shalit prisoner deal

Jan. 6, 2008 at 11:00 AM

JERUSALEM, Jan. 6 (UPI) -- Aides for Israel's prime minister deny a jailed Fatah leader likely will be part of a prisoner swap to free kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's aides rejected Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai's contention Saturday that imprisoned Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti was "likely to be on the list" of Palestinian prisoners to be exchanged for Shalit, Ynetnews reported Sunday.

"Barghouti's release is not on the agenda," the prime minister's office said in a statement.

Vilnai told Israel Radio Saturday that Barghuoti's release "will be part of the process of Gilad's release," adding, "I'm willing to go a long way to see a soldier like Gilad return home."

Palestinian militants abducted Shalit during a cross-border raid June 25, 2006.