Chairman Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority (PA) says he received a commitment from former prime minister Ehud Olmert to release more prisoners upon the completion of a deal for the release of soldier Gilad Shalit from Hamas captivity, according to an interview published Thursday by Time magazine. Abu Mazen told Time that the promise came following goodwill prisoner releases, when he asked Olmert to release even more prisoners. Abbas added, "He said now I cannot because we have a Shalit deal, but I promise you when we conclude Shalit and everything is okay, I will give you, not the same number, not the same quality, more. I think that he repeated it twice in different meetings."
According to Abbas, "He asked me, please keep it secret, confidential between us, because we don't want to affect the deal with Shalit. I said, okay, okay, I will keep it. Now the deal is over, and we will ask them to fulfill their promises." The PA chairman said he told United States Consul General in Jerusalem, Daniel Rubinstein about Olmert's remarks during a Wednesday meeting in Ramallah, adding that a prisoner release was one of a number of confidence-building measures proposed by the U.S. a few months ago