Around the West Bank, banners welcome the release of Palestinian prisoners planned for later today.
Among the 199 prisoners to be freed by the Israeli authorities are two who were jailed close to 30 years ago for involvement in deadly attacks against Israelis.
Muhammed Abu Ali, known as Abu Ali Yatta, was charged with killing an Israeli soldier.
His daughter, Layla, regrets only growing up without him: “He worked for Palestine and sacrificed for his homeland. He killed a Jew,” she said.
In Israel, several cabinet ministers have criticised the release, saying there has been no quid pro quo.
More than 400 Palestinians were previously released in November.
There were strong words too from a former terror attack victim: “The Israeli government is making a big mistake by releasing terrorists, now with blood on their hands, the first time for many years,” Meir Eindor, of the Almagor Terror Victims Association in Israel said. “The lesson to the region is that terror pays off.”
But the Israeli government is hoping to boost the peace process and to bolster Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.
Most of the prisoners are members of his Fatah faction. They are to be freed hours before US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visits Israel, to spur progress toward a peace deal in the region.
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