Abbas: No talks until 123 prisoners freed

July 9, 2012 at 8:59 AM
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BETHLEHEM, Israel, July 9 (UPI) -- Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas won't enter peace talks with Israel until 123 prisoners held since before 1994 are released, a P.A. official said.

The authority's prisons minister, Issa Qaraqe, said Monday Abbas turned down Israel's offer to immediately release 25 prisoners and another 100 at the end of the year in exchange for returning to talks, Haaretz reported.

Qaraqe said Abbas called on Israel to uphold an agreement made with former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to release the 123 prisoners as part of the 1994 Oslo Agreement, the Palestinian Ma'an News Agency reported.

The deal to release the pre-Oslo prisoners was delayed until Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was freed, though his release in October has not led to the freedom of the Palestinian prisoners, the report said.

Shalit was abducted by Hamas militants in 2006 and held prisoner in for five years.

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