Israel’s cabinet has approved plans to free about 200 Palestinian prisoners. A spokesman for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said it is a confidence-building measure to reinforce moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and boost the peace process. It is intended to show the Palestinians that they can win the release of prisoners through peaceful means.
This follows a meeting earlier this month when Olmert promised Abbas that Israel would free some of the 11,000 Palestinians it is holding.
The Hamas group, which controls the Gaza Strip and is a rival to President Abbas, is demanding the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in exchange for a captured Israeli soldier.
Israel set free 429 Palestinians as a goodwill gesture to Abbas after the resumption of peace negotiations in November at a conference in the US.
The release which has just been approved is due to take place on August 25.