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Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Abbas planning to release another murderer

More evidence that wearing a suit does not make you a partner for peace.

A Palestinian militant accused of ordering the killing of an Israeli minister will be freed from jail in Jericho when Israel pulls back from the city this week, President Mahmoud Abbas said on Tuesday.

But Israel said it had not agreed with the Palestinians that Ahmed Saadat or any of the other three it accuses in the 2001 assassination could be released after the redeployment around the West Bank city set for Wednesday.

Abbas told Reuters by telephone that Saadat and Fuad al-Shobaki, an aide to the late Yasser Arafat accused of arms smuggling, would be released after Israeli troops left.

'Saadat and Shobaki will be released from prison in Jericho when Jericho is handed over to the Palestinians,' Abbas said.

'The two men were placed by Israel on the wanted list and the agreement we have with Israel is that once it leaves our cities, the fugitives will have immunity. Therefore, they will be freed, and the Israelis are aware of this.'

But Israel's Defense Ministry said Israel and the Palestinians agreed at a meeting on Monday where they discussed the pullback from Jericho 'that the murderers of (Tourism Minister) Rehavam Zeevi will remain in prison.'