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Palestinian PM optimistic about journalists' release

Haniyeh says he has been promised pair won't be harmed

Palestinian officials are saying they expect Olaf Wiig, left, and Steve Centanni will be released soon.

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GAZA CITY, Gaza (CNN) -- The Palestinian prime minister said late Saturday that he hopes two Fox journalists kidnapped earlier this month will be released "in the coming hours," his office said.

The kidnappers have promised Ismail Haniyeh, a member of Hamas who came to power earlier this year, that the journalists will not be hurt, according to Haniyeh's staff.

"There is progress in the issue of the journalists, and there are promises also that they won't be harmed," Haniyeh told the Palestinian news service, Ramattan.

"The interior minister, Said Siyam, is personally following this matter, and we hope it will be resolved in a way befitting us as a resistant and civilized Palestinian people," he said. (Watch Haniyeh denounce the kidnappings -- 1:46)

There were no "direct negotiations" to secure the journalists' release, said Palestinian Interior Ministry spokesman Khaled Abu Hilal, but "there are certain communications with various Palestinian sides."

Correspondent Steve Centanni, 60, and cameraman Olaf Wiig, 36, were snatched from their television van in the streets of Gaza City on August 14. A previously unknown group calling itself Holy Jihad Brigades claimed responsibility.

Centanni and Wiig appeared unharmed in a video aired Wednesday by Ramattan. On the video, Centanni said he and Wiig were in good condition and had "lots of clean water, food every day, access to the bathroom, shower, clean clothes, and our captors are treating us well."

Wiig added, "If you could apply any political pressure on the local government here in Gaza and the West Bank, that would be much appreciated by Steve and myself." (Watch Centanni and Wiig talk about their situation -- 1:33)

A leaflet accompanying the video said "we will release your prisoners" if Muslim prisoners "in the jails of America" are released.

Palestinians have been urging the kidnappers to release the journalists.

A Palestinian prisoner rights group said that Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails want the journalists freed immediately and unconditionally.

Also, the Palestinian Journalists' Syndicate in Jerusalem demanded Saturday that the journalists be released, saying the abductions "serve Israel, and harm the Palestinian people and their cause," according to Ramattan.

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