Paris should aid French-Palestinian held by Israel: Abbas

14th October 2011, Comments 0 comments

France should help secure the release of a French-Palestinian held by Israel, just as it lobbied on behalf of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, the Palestinian Authority president said Friday.

Shalit, who was snatched by militants in June 2006 and held since in Hamas-controlled in Gaza, also holds French nationality, while French-Palestinian Salah Hamouri has been imprisoned in Israel since 2005.

Speaking to journalists following a meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Mahmud Abbas applauded France's "considerable efforts to obtain (Shalit's) release."

Shalit is to return to Israel on Tuesday at the same time as 450 Palestinian prisoners are freed, an Israeli official said Friday

Another 550 Palestinian prisoners are to be released within two months as part of the prisoner swap deal with the Islamist group Hamas.

Abbas urged France to intervene on behalf of Hamouri, a 26-year-old who was arrested over allegations that he was plotting to assassinate a rabbi, a charge that he denies.

The Palestinian leader wished that "everyone (makes) an effort, including France, on our side in order to obtain his release."

"Concerning the exchange of prisoners ... we think that its is good for us and I want that every Palestinian prisoner will be able to reclaim their liberty."

"When a large number of Palestinian prisoners are freed, reunited with their families, their homes, that will make us very happy," he said.

He also restated that the Palestinian Authority would be prepared to restart peace talks with Israel if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "accepts the principle of two states based on the 1967 borders and ends his settlement policy."

Israel has formally submitted plans for a new settlement neighbourhood in annexed east Jerusalem, settlement watchdog Peace Now said on Friday.

Abbas said Netanyahu's clear commitment to forge ahead with new settlement constructions proves "he does not want peace", and voiced hope that France would play an increased role in the peace process.

© 2011 AFP

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