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Israel Frees More Palestinian Prisoners

Israel has freed 26 more Palestinian prisoners who were jailed for deadly attacks on Israeli civilians, in the latest release under an agreement to revive peace talks between the two sides.

Crowds cheered and waved flags Tuesday as they gave the freed prisoners a hero's welcome in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and other officials greeted a group of them in Ramallah, where Mr. Abbas vowed to press for more prisoners to be allowed to go home.

"We will not sign a final peace deal with Israel until all the prisoners are released."

VOA correspondent Scott Bobb spoke with some of the prisoners in Ramallah and described the situation following their welcome home.

"Each prisoner -- released prisoner -- is sitting either at home or in a community center and receiving guests, friends, people who haven't seen some of them for 30 years, and it's very emotional of course. But of course to them things have changed so much because all of these prisoners were in prison for at least 20 years, some of them 28 years, so it was a very different area here when they left. So it's quite an adjustment for them."

He said the families of Israeli victims protested at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's residence and at the home of one of the released prisoners in East Jerusalem.

The releases anger many Israelis, including some member of Mr. Netanyahu's Cabinet.

The latest release was the third of four agreed to with Israel under which a total of 104 Palestinians will be freed.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is due to travel to the Middle East this week, where the State Department says he will propose a framework for final status negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

A spokeswoman gave no details of the framework Monday other than saying it would address all core issues between the two sides.

Israel and the Palestinians resumed peace talks in July after a three-year break. Israel agreed to the prisoner release and the Palestinians dropped their demand for Israel to stop settlement construction before final status talks are held.

Kerry leaves for Jerusalem Wednesday and will proceed to Ramallah. The secretary of state has made a Middle East peace agreement a top foreign policy goal. He has made frequent trips to the region in the past year.

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