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Olmert refuses to trade militants for captured soldier; ISRAEL INTERNATIONAL.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Israel would not free the number of Palestinian militants demanded by the captors of an Israeli soldier abducted a year ago.

Mr Olmert was speaking in televised remarks to an economic conference at the Mediterranean coastal resort of Caesarea, three days after the Hamas-linked group holding Cpl Gilad Shalit released a recorded message from their captive, the first sign of life from the 20-year-old soldier since he was snatched by Palestinian raiders from an army post inside Israel and taken to a Gaza hideout.

The militants demand that Israel trade hundreds of Palestinian prisoners for Cpl Shalit's release. Israel has agreed to a swap in principle, but balked at the number and type of prisoners to be freed.

"The fact that for the release of Gilad Shalit the terrorists demand that we free hundreds of arch-murderers says everything about the differences between us in our regard for human life," Mr Olmert said. "That does not mean we shall give in to extortion."

A Hamas official who has been in touch with Cpl Shalit's captors said on Tuesday that they wanted the release of all Palestinian women and minors held by Israel and 1,000 other Arab prisoners, among them militant leaders.

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Israeli President Moshe Katsav is surrounded by police as he gets into his car outside his home in southern Israel. He has reached a plea bargain which forced him to resign, but included no rape charges. The deal, which means he will spend no time in jail, follows a seven-month investigation after allegations from at least four female employees against Mr Katsav Picture, EDI ISRAEL
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Jun 30, 2007
Words:274
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