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Published: Saturday, 12/23/2006

Israel OKs release of Palestinian funds

RAMALLAH, West Bank - Israel agreed today to release $100 million in frozen Palestinian funds, a Palestinian negotiator said, after a summit between the Israeli and Palestinian leaders that revived hopes for peace talks after years of hostility and distrust.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert also agreed to ease travel restrictions in the West Bank, Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said after the Israeli leader met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. The two leaders also decided to meet again, but set no date.

No agreement was reached on a release of Palestinian prisoners, but the two sides agreed to discuss the issue further. The Palestinians on Sunday are to release a list of names of prisoners they want to see released, Erekat said.

Israel had frozen the transfer of tax rebates and other funds to the Palestinians after the Islamic militant Hamas came to power in March. In the Olmert-Abbas meeting, the Israeli leader said he would release $100 million of those funds for humanitarian needs.

Olmert also agreed to remove several West Bank roadblocks in coming days, according to a list the Palestinians submitted to Israel, Erekat said.

The Israeli leader also promised to meet a quota of 400 trucks moving through the main cargo crossing between Gaza and Israel, the negotiator said.

Read more in later editions of The Blade and toledoblade.com

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