Israel is to free 250 Palestinian prisoners in a bid to bolster Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in his power struggle with Hamas Islamists who control the Gaza Strip.
The prisoners, a fraction of the 11,000 Palestinians held by Israel, will be released in the occupied West Bank, where Mr Abbas's government holds sway, before next week's Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha.
Israel's outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had promised to free the prisoners during a meeting this month with Mr Abbas, who launched peace talks with Israel a year ago after Gaza's violent takeover by Hamas.
The freed prisoners will be from Mr Abbas's secular Fatah faction and other non-Islamist groups. A senior Palestinian negotiator said that Israel has yet to tell the Palestinians whether it would consider freeing high-profile Fatah inmates such as uprising leader Marwan Barghouthi, who is seen as a possible successor to Mr Abbas as president.Reuse content