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E.U. official wants prisoner releases

The president of the European Parliament called for Israel to free Hamas officials from police custody and for the release of three Israeli soldiers from their Arab captors. Hans-Gert Poettering, addressing the Knesset on Wednesday, said that Europe understands Israel’s security concerns but wants faith-building moves. “The European Parliament calls on the one hand for the release of the abducted Israeli soldiers Ehud Goldwasser, Eldad Regev and Gilad Shalit, as well as of the British correspondent Alan Johnston, and on the other for the imprisoned members of parliament and other politicians to be released from custody,” he said. Poettering further urged Israel to free up some $700 million in Palestinian Authority tax revenues that it has been withholding since Hamas rose to power last year. But Israel rebuffed that demand. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said in a statement that during a meeting with Poettering, “the prime minister emphasized that he will not transfer funds to the Palestinian Authority so long as there is concern that the funds will be used for terrorist ends.”