Israel Lists 26 Prisoners to be released

The government of Israel released details of 26 Palestinian prisoners who will be freed as part of an agreement, which will see a resumption of peace talks during the week.

The list of prisoners was chosen by a committee of ministers and published overnight. On Tuesday, the prisoners will be given their freedom. The delay in freeing them, allows for legal challenges at the last minute by families of victims.

The announcement of the list came after officials from the Palestinians had accused Israel of attempting to sabotage peace talks by approving over 1,200 settlement homes.

On Wednesday, direct negotiations have been scheduled to take place between Palestinian and Israeli negotiators, which is two weeks after a round of preparatory talks took place in Washington.

A spokesperson for the government of Israel rejected the criticism of the Palestinians of the new housing announcement. The spokesperson said initiative for peace thus far proposed that settlements in question become the territory of Israel.

Previously, Palestinians have agreed to minor swaps of lands. Nearly half a million Jews currently live in over 100 settlements built since the occupation of 1967 of East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Under international law, the settlements have been considered illegal, though that has been disputed by Israel.

On Sunday, a statement released by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said that all 26 of the prisoners would be given their freedom. The list was open to the public after the victims’ families were informed of who was on the list.

Fourteen of the 26 will be freed in the Gaza Strip, while 12 will be released in the West Bank. Eight were due over the next three years to be released, while two were scheduled for release within six months.

Twenty of the 26 were members of the Fatah movement, which is that of President Mahmoud Abbas. The other six were members of rival groups including Islamic Jihad and Hamas.

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