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Israel to prosecute arrested Hamas leaders, but may release prisoners for soldier

[JURIST] Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Shimon Peres [official profile] said Sunday that some two dozen members of the Palestinian cabinet and legislature from the governing Hamas faction detained by Israeli forces [JURIST report] in West Bank raids last week will be prosecuted and put on trial for "participating, supporting terroristic acts against the civilian government." The arrests were made Thursday as tensions mounted between Israel and the Palestinians over last Sunday's abduction of Israeli soldier Cpl. Gilad Shalit in Gaza. Aljazeera has more.

Early speculation had suggested that Israel would perhaps trade some of the arrested Hamas leaders for the captured Shalit. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) [official website] said Monday, however, that in response to a call for Israel to release Palestinian prisoners for Shalit it would support a deal to release terror suspects that have not been involved in planning or implementing terror attacks, but not those "with blood on their hands." UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan meanwhile warned in the face of increased violence - including a weekend Israeli attack on the office of Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh [Bloomberg report] - that it is important to preserve Palestinian institutions [UN News report] and infrastructure in order to support an eventual two-State solution of the Palestinian question. Haaretz has more.

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