Hamas chief looks for prisoners exchange deal, Olmert rejects
Hamas political leader Khaled Mashaal on Monday insisted that Israel must release Palestinian prisoners to secure the release of an Israeli soldier captured by Palestinian fighters. Mashaal spoke at his first public appearance since Israel threatened to kill him after the soldier was captured in a cross-border raid on June 25. Israel claims Mashaal masterminded the operation.
"The Palestinian people are united on insisting that the (Israeli) prisoner soldier be traded for (Palestinian) prisoners in Israeli jails," he told a news conference.
According to the AP, Mashaal accused Israel and the United States of providing the "ugliest example of terrorism" against Palestinians, adding that Israel was breaking international law. He also attacked the West for keeping silent on Israel's ground offensive in the Gaza Strip.
"The Palestinian people are facing consecutive strikes by the Zionist, aggressive and terrorist entity," Mashaal said.
In Jerusalem, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert ruled out a prisoner swap with Hamas to win the release of the soldier. "Trading prisoners with a terrorist bloody organization such as Hamas is a major mistake that will cause a lot of damage to the future of the state of Israel," Olmert told foreign reporters.
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