The cabinet ministers in Israel authorized the third round of prisoner releases for Palestinians, following through on their pledge made previously to help bring back the Palestinians to the bargaining table.
A prepared statement was sent out via email on Saturday from the office of Benjamin Netanyahu the Israeli Prime Minister that said the release of another 26 prisoners had been authorized that same evening.
Most of the 26 prisoners had been convicted in attacks against Israelis, and the statement said all had been behind bars for over 19 years.
On the Prison Services Internet site in Israel, the names of the prisoners were released. At this point, people have 48 hours in which to appeal.
Israel’s part of the agreement was to free in four rounds, a total of 104 Palestinians from prison. The agreement is part of the deal between the two to renew the peace talks that was brokered last July by John Kelly, the current U.S. Secretary of State.
Kerry is traveling on January 1 to the Middle East in his continued effort to advance the peace talks and to attempt to garner a framework agreement that would allow negotiations to go beyond the original deadline of April of 2014.
On Sunday, Dan Shapiro, the U.S. Ambassador in Israel said the effort is to establish a framework agreement to help guide the peace negotiations in the current direction of a lasting final agreement ending the ongoing conflict between the Palestinians and Israelis.
U.S. Ambassador Shapiro said that there has been significant advancement made of recent and Secretary Kerry wants to take advantage of his upcoming visit to make even more progress.
Shapiro also refuted the reports by local media in Israel that had linked further prison releases and concessions by Israel to the release of Jonathan Pollard, a U.S. citizen imprisoned in 1985 for passing Israel classified U.S. intelligence.
Shapiro said in his opinion there was not direct link between the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians and the Pollard issues, or for that matter the prisoner releases.