Hamas Leader Freed From Israeli Jail Calls for Palestinian Unity

Sheikh Naif Rajoub was arrested after Shalit's capture, and Israel had been hoping to use him as bargaining chip in prisoner swap.

Israel Prisons Services on Sunday released a Hamas member of the Palestinian parliament who was arrested after Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was abducted in a cross-border raid from the Gaza Strip four years ago.

Sheikh Naif Rajoub, brother of senior Fatah official Jibril Rajoub, returned to his home in the West Bank village of Dura, south of Hebron.

Sheikh Naif Rajoub
Sheikh Naif Rajoub was released from Israeli jail on Sunday, June 20, 2010AP

Israel viewed him as a possible bargaining chip for Shalit's release, but when the period of detention ordered by an Israeli military court ended, security officials were obliged to release him.

Following his release, the sheikh told issued a call for Palestinian unity. He also noted that Mahmoud Abbas is not onlythe head of Fatah but of the entire Palestinian people.

He also said Abbas should visit Gaza and that Hamas would participate in Palestinian elections if the Palestinian Authority holds them.