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U.S. Won’t Ask Israel to Release Terrorists in Exchange for Four Professors Kidnapped in Beirut

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The State Department indicated Monday that it would not ask Israel to release Palestinian terrorists in exchange for four university professors kidnapped in Beirut.

“We would not call on third countries to do anything but to stand firm in the face of terrorist demands,” Department spokesman Charles Redman said. Redman was commenting on a report that a previously unknown group, calling itself the Islamic Holy War for the Liberation of Palestine, claimed it had kidnapped the four professors — three Americans and an Indian national — on January 24 and would kill them unless Israel released 400 Palestinians from jail within a week.

Israeli Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin said Sunday that the U.S. had not made any request of Israel. Rabin said Israel would not become “an international bank of prisoners for any of the terrorist groups who can go out tomorrow and kidnap Americans, Germans or anyone else with the address for ransom being those who have been caught as terrorists and are in prison in Israel.”

Redman stressed that U.S. policy is not to make concessions to terrorists. “We are not going to encourage third countries to do so,” he said. “Those who take hostages need to be fully aware of that.”

Redman denied that Israel had released Shiite Moslem prisoners in July 1985 in return for the freedom of 39 American hostages held in Lebanon after the hijacking of a TWA plane on June 14, 1985. He said Israel had planned earlier to allow the prisoners to return to their homes in south Lebanon and the hijacking “had delayed the process.” This is the same explanation given by the Israel government at the time. It denied any link to the hostages.

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