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NEWS: Israel to Release 500 Palestinian Prisoners

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posted on Feb, 13 2005 @ 01:10 PM
The government of Israel has approved a list of 500 Palestinian prisoners to release as part of an agreement reached in peace talks with the Palestinian Authority. The prisoners slated for release do not include any convicted of terrorist activities within Israel. The Israelis also plan to return the remains of 15 Palestinians killed while conducting attacks on Jewish settlers. The move is hoped to help new Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas solidify his position and keep militant groups from violating the cease fire. The prisoners could be freed as early as Wednesday.
JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel's cabinet on Sunday approved the release of 500 Palestinian prisoners in what Prime Minister Ariel Sharon called a goodwill gesture to bolster new Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and build mutual trust.

In a further step to support peace moves after Sharon and Abbas agreed on a ceasefire at a groundbreaking summit in Egypt five days ago, Israel let more than 200 Palestinian laborers enter from the Gaza Strip for the first time in months.

Abbas won a pledge from Islamic militants on Saturday to observe a de facto truce while they consider the ceasefire. In a major policy shift, the Hamas and Islamic Jihad groups said they would not retaliate immediately for any Israeli military action.

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This is an important step towards peace in the Middle East and prisoner release has been historically a major sticking point especially among the more militant groups. There's a great opportunity here with the passing of Yassir Arafat to move towards a lasting peace. The ability of Abbas to keep the militants from carrying out more suicide attacks against Israelis will be key to allowing the peace process continue.

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[edit on 2/13/2005 by djohnsto77]

[edit on 2/13/2005 by djohnsto77]

[edit on 13-2-2005 by John bull 1]

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