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News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

May 30, 2003

Israeli peace gesture delayed

There is no reason given for the change of plans, according to this BBC report, on releasing arab 100 prisoners, but the folliowing excerpt is an interesting comment from Hamas
[...]A top Hamas official downplayed the significance of the meeting between Abu Mazen and Mr Sharon when he spoke to French news agency AFP on Friday.

Palestinians "have not made all these sacrifices to obtain the liberation of one or two prisoners and the right for some workers to be allowed" to go back to Israel, Abdel Aziz al-Rantissi, said.

He said Hamas would only stop its suicide attacks if Israel halted all "aggression".

In an interview published on Thursday, Abu Mazen said he expected to reach an agreement with Hamas, to halt attacks on Israelis.

But earlier Mr Rantissi was quoted saying he was not aware any such agreement was planned.

Despite the postponement of the prisoner release, measures to ease the blockade on the West Bank and Gaza Strip should go ahead as planned on Saturday night.

If so, Palestinians over the age of 28 will be able to move out of their towns, says BBC correspondent Richard Galpin.

It is also expected that thousands more Palestinians will be able to return to their jobs in Israel, our correspondent adds.