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Israel to Release 250 Imprisoned Fatah Members as Goodwill Gesture

  • VOA News

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert says he will release 250 Fatah members from Israeli prisons as a goodwill gesture to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah.

Mr. Olmert made the announcement Monday during a summit in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh with Mr. Abbas, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, and Jordan's King Abdullah.

Ahead of the summit, Mr. Olmert played down expectations the talks could result in a breakthrough. Instead, he said the meeting will be important because it will show all four leaders expressing a desire to build on a process of peacemaking.

But Palestinian officials say they want to see negotiations resume on ending the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, and on progress toward the establishment of a Palestinian state.

The Islamic militant group Hamas staged a violent takeover of the Gaza Strip earlier this month.

On Sunday, Israel's government approved the release of some 600-million dollars in withheld tax revenues to Mr. Abbas.

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