Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Israel released Palestinian parliament speaker

TULKAREM, West Bank (AP) — The Hamas-affiliated speaker of the Palestinian parliament was freed Tuesday from an Israeli prison after serving the bulk of his three-year sentence.

Abdel Aziz Duaik is the most senior of dozens of Hamas politicians arrested after Gaza Strip militants loyal to the group captured an Israeli soldier in June 2006. The soldier, Sgt. Gilad Schalit, will mark three years in captivity on Thursday.

Hamas would not say whether Duaik, who was released into the West Bank, would resume his duties as parliament speaker. But the Palestinian parliament has not functioned since Hamas seized control of Gaza in June 2007, in effect creating a two-headed Palestinian government with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas ruling the West Bank.

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