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Israel Won't Rush To Free Prisoners

Associated Press
Saturday, December 30, 2006

JERUSALEM, Dec. 29 -- Israel rejected Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas's request for a quick release of prisoners to bolster nascent peace moves, saying Friday that Palestinian fighters first must free a captured Israeli soldier.

The decision was a setback for the Palestinian leader as he jockeyed with the Islamic group Hamas for popular support in the increasingly turbulent West Bank and Gaza Strip. Abbas had hoped Israeli concessions would strengthen his argument that talks, not violence, are the Palestinians' best hope for achieving a state.

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