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Abbas: Truce Will Fail if Israel Does Not Free Prisoners.

By Ha'aretz and Reuters

Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas warned Wednesday that the three-month truce announced by militants Sunday would collapse if Israel failed to free a significant number of Palestinian prisoners. "If we wait for three months without any release of the prisoners, the ceasefire will break down. If they assassinate anybody... it will collapse," Abbas told Reuters in an interview from his Ramallah office.

The prime minister also made a tough pledge to jail militants who violate the truce, saying, "We will crack down on them."

I think the Palestinian people will accept this because the Palestinian people accepted the truce and they are keen to keep it... So from now on anybody, any faction, any party which violates it - we will put them in prison."

Abbas said he was rebuilding the decimated Palestinian security forces and expected them to be strong enough to combat truce violators in about a month.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon told a cabinet meeting earlier in the day that Israel had not yet compiled a list of Palestinian prisoners to be released. Palestinian sources said Wednesday, however, that Israel was set to release 20

Palestinian prisoners from Ofer Prison, north of Jerusalem. The sources told Israel Radio that 10 of the 20 were administrative prisoners, while the prison terms of the other ten were almost over, Israel Radio reported.

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Publication:Israel Faxx
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jul 3, 2003
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