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Israel Might Release Prisoners to Gain Soldier
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Israeli Public Security Minister Avi Dichter suggested on Friday that Israel might release Palestinian prisoners if an abducted Israeli soldier is freed, local media reported.

Dichter said that once Gilad Shalit is released and Palestinian militants stop firing rockets at Israel, "then, in a goodwill gesture, Israel, as it has in the past, knows how to free prisoners."

Speaking to business executives at a Tel Aviv hotel, the minister alluded to the possibility that releasing prisoners remains an option in future affairs as well.

"The release of prisoners in exchange for an end to the Qassam rocket fire on Israel is an attainable goal," Dichter said.

"We've done it in the past to free hostages and in exchange for calm," Dichter said, adding that "we all hope Gilad will come home safe and sound."

Hamas sources said on Thursday that the group would agree to release Shalit and stop firing Qassam rockets at Israel in exchange for the release of all female Palestinian prisoners and about 30 prisoners who have been in Israeli jails for more than 20 years.

Shalit was kidnapped by Palestinian militants on June 25.

(Xinhua News Agency July 8, 2006)

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