News / Middle East

    Israel to Release 2nd Group of Palestinian Prisoners

    FILE - Palestinians take part in a rally calling for the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails, in Gaza City September 2, 2013.
    FILE - Palestinians take part in a rally calling for the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails, in Gaza City September 2, 2013.
    VOA News
    Israel has approved the release of a second group of long-serving Palestinian prisoners, as part of a deal that restarted peace talks between the two sides.
     
    In a vote Sunday, an Israeli ministerial committee authorized the release of 26 Palestinians who have served between 19 and 28 years in jail, many for killing Israelis. All were jailed for violence committed before Israel signed a 1993 interim peace deal with the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.
     
    The names of the 26 prisoners were due to be published on the website of Israel's prison authority in the evening. That begins a 48-hour period in which relatives of those killed in attacks blamed on the Palestinians can file objections to the planned release.
     
    Israel's top court typically has refused to intervene in releases of Palestinian prisoners, saying they are a political matter for the government to decide.
     
    The government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has promised to free 104 long-held Palestinian prisoners in four stages as peace talks proceed. This week's planned release will be Israel's second following its initial freeing of 26 Palestinians in August.
     
    Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas resumed peace talks in July under U.S. mediation, ending a years-long impasse.
     
    As part of the deal to restart the process, Abbas dropped his refusal to negotiate while Israel continues building homes for Jews on occupied land the Palestinians claim for a state.
     
    The United States has set a goal for the two sides to conclude a final peace deal resolving all core issues of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict within nine months.
     
    Many Palestinians view the long-serving prisoners included in the deal as heroes, regardless of their actions. Most Israelis regard them as terrorists for targeting civilians.

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