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Israel not to carry out Olmert’s promise to free 250 Palestinians

By Xinhua,

Gaza : Palestinian sources said on Saturday that Israel has called off its premier Ehud Olmert’s earlier promise that it would release 250 prisoners this week as a goodwill gesture to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

The sources said the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) got a message from the caretaker Israeli government, which says “huge pressure was put on Olmert and forced him to review his promise” over the prisoners release that he made to Abbas when they met in Jerusalem last month.

The pressures aimed at blocking the release of the Palestinian prisoners since no progress was made on freeing an Israeli soldier that Islamic Hamas movement is holding in Gaza since 2006.

Hamas has reportedly rejected an Israeli initiative to increase the number of controversial prisoners that Hamas seeks their freedom in exchange for freeing captured Israeli Corporal Gilad Shalit.

According to the message, the internal political situation in Israel, which will witness general elections in early February, also made Olmert unable to resist the pressures.

The release of the 250 prisoners, who are mostly loyal to Abbas’ Fatah movement, was due to take place prior to the Muslim’s Greater Bairam festival which falls on Monday.

Israel holds more than 11,000 Palestinian prisoners in its jails.