Hezbollah to demand Palestinian prisoners’ release: Report

June 23rd, 2008 - 4:51 am ICT by IANS  

Tel Aviv, June 23 (DPA) The Lebanese Shia movement Hezbollah will demand the release of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails in exchange for two Israeli soldiers, reports said Sunday. It had been believed that a deal, in which Israel would release Lebanese prisoners in return for its soldiers, was imminent and that Hezbollah had apparently dropped the Palestinians from the deal.

Israel has said it will not release Palestinians as part of the deal with the Lebanese group.

The new demand was relayed to Israel via the German negotiators who go between the Lebanese militant group and the Israeli government, local media reported.

The two Israeli soldiers were captured in July 2006 in a crossborder raid that sparked a 33-day war between Israel and Lebanon.

Recently, Lebanon has rejected calls by Israel to bilaterally negotiate a peace deal, saying it preferred the pan-Arab peace initiative, which calls for Israel to leave all land occupied in the 1967 Middle East War and for a solution to the Palestinian refugee problem in return for normalization with the Jewish state.

On Sunday afternoon, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his security cabinet, including heads of the military and intelligence agencies, convened in Jerusalem, apparently to discuss the new Hezbollah demand.

In 2004, Israel traded some 400 Palestinians and more than 20 Lebanese for a kidnapped reservist and the bodies of three soldiers held by Hezbollah.

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