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Israeli govt approves list of 26 Palestinian prisoners to be freed

August 12, 2013, 6:35 UTC+3

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu did not participate in the panel's session for health reasons

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TEL AVIV, August 12 (Itar-Tass) - On Sunday night, an Israeli government commission approved a list of 26 Palestinian prisoners who are due to be released on Tuesday. A list of the amnestied prisoners -- who were put behind the bars more than 20 years ago, prior to the conclusion of the 1992 Oslo accords -- is due to be published on the website of the Prisoners and Detainees Department of Israel on Monday.

The commission's session was attended by Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon, Tzipi Livni, leader of the Israeli delegation at talks with the Palestinians, Yaakov Peri, Minister of Science and former head of the General Security Service (Shabak) and by Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu did not participate in the panel's session for health reasons. On the night from Saturday to Sunday, he underwent an operation to remove hernia in the stomach areas. He has been discharged from hospital by now.

A list of prisoners to be released first was suggested by the General Security Service. According to existing information, there are activists of the HAMAS movement among those to be released. A member of the Israeli political establishment, who preferred to remain unnamed, pointed out, "This step is being taken to enhance the positions of (Palestinian leader) Mahmoud Abbas".

The decision to release 104 Palesitinians who spent more than 20 years in prison was taken by the Israeli government onJuly 28 as a goodwill gesture ahead of a meeting between the negotiating groups of the two sides in Washington.

The first round of direct Palestinian-Israeli negotiations -- which were resumed for the first time since 2010 -- took place in the US State Department building at the end of July. The meeting was held without American mediators' participation. The negotiations are expected to take nine months.

Next meeting, planned for Wednesday, is to be held in Jerusalem. Israel decided to release Palestinian prisoners in four stages. The first group is to be freed before the first round of talks in Jerusalem. Then the governmentc ommission is expected to approve lists for release every two months. A subsequent round of negotiations after the Jerusalem one is to be held in the city of Jericho in the West Bank.

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