Israel will not respond positively to the Palestinian Authority's request to free jailed Palestinians, Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said in an interview with Israel Radio on Thursday. "I don't think he [Abbas] can expect the release of prisoners with blood on their hands," Olmert was quoted as saying.
Olmert, speaking ahead of a planned Tuesday summit between Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, said Israel should examine all possible steps to alleviating conditions for Palestinians.
The Tel Aviv-based Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper reported Thursday that Israel is planning to offer Abbas "goodwill gestures" in an attempt to boost his position vis-a-vis the Hamas. The moves considered by Israel feature opening up a safe passage between Gaza Strip and the West Bank, removing Israeli forces from Palestinian towns, and allowing the return of Palestinian activists expelled to Europe during the Intifada.