Olmert Pledges to Release 250 Prisoners

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JERUSALEM, Israel - Outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert pledged Monday to release an additional 250 prisoners as a goodwill gesture to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to mark the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha.

Olmert announced his intentions following a private meeting in his Jerusalem residence with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

The two outgoing leaders have met regularly at Olmert's residence since the November 2006 U.S.-sponsored Annapolis Conference.

According to the PA's al-Ayyam newspaper, Abbas asked Olmert to include the former head of Fatah's Tanzim militia, Marwan Barghouti, serving five consecutive life sentences for murder, in the pre-holiday prisoner release, Israel Radio reported.

Likud MK Reuven Rivlin said Olmert should no longer be making such decisions.

"Olmert is not relevant to the political process and he does not to make promises in Israel's name," Rivlin said. "We're tired of him and his political mischief," he said.

The four-day Eid al-Adha holiday, celebrated throughout the Muslim world at the end of the haj pilgrimage, rewrites the biblical recording of Abraham's sacrifice of Isaac with Ishmael--his son by Sarah's Egyptian handmaid, Hagar.

Sources: The Jerusalem Post, Haaretz

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