TEL AVIV (Feb. 10)
Premier Yitzhak Shamir said Tuesday that Israel has received no request from the U.S. to release imprisoned terrorists in exchange for the lives of hostages held by an extremist group in Lebanon. However, he said, “If such a request were received, it would be considered.”
He did not indicate the possible outcome of such consideration but reiterated Israel’s policy not to negotiate with terrorists. Shamir, who was interviewed on television, will be in Washington next week for meetings with President Reagan and top Administration officials.
A group calling itself the Islamic Jihad (Holy War) for the Liberation of Palestine has demanded that Israel free 400 Arab terrorists jailed in Israel or in the prison of the Israel-backed South Lebanon Army (SLA) in Ansar, south Lebanon.
According to a report from Beirut, the Islamic Jihad has given the International Red Cross a list of the prisoners it wants freed–310 Lebanese Shiites and 90 Palestinians. The latter include three terrorists serving life sentences for a grenade attack which killed an Israeli soldier near the Western Wall in Jerusalem five months ago.
The Islamic Jihad threatened Monday to kill four hostages–three Americans and an Indian national who is a resident of the U.S.–if the prisoners were not released within 24 hours. Reports from Beirut Tuesday said the deadline was extended for an unspecified period in order to allow time for negotiations and because of appeals by the hostages and their families and certain elements in Lebanon.