Sunday, December 24, 2006
"Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Sunday asked cabinet ministers for their position on a new Palestinian request for the release of prisoners by next week, Israel Radio reported.
At the weekly cabinet meeting, Olmert told the ministers that in their Saturday meeting Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas had asked for an Israeli gesture ahead of the Eid al-Adha festival.
So far Israel has maintained it would not release any Palestinians before abducted Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit is released by Hamas.
Three cabinet minister said in response that the release of prisoners before Shalit is freed should be considered as a goodwill gesture that would boost Abbas' position on the Palestinian street, according to the radio.
Vice Premier Shimon Peres said he sees no reason why a gesture should not be made to Abbas in order to support the moderates in the PA.
Defense Minister Amir Peretz said there is room for such a move before Shalit's release.
Transportation Minister and former defense minister Shaul Mofaz said the proposal should be considered. Israel has made such gestures in the past and that the PA chairman should be supported, Mofaz was quoted by the radio as saying. "