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Palestinians prepare to welcome freed prisoners while Israelis condemn move as a betrayal


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Palestinians prepare to welcome freed prisoners while Israelis condemn move as a betrayal

Preparations are underway for the homecoming of 26 Palestinian prisoners due to be released by Israel ahead of the resumption of peace talks.

The 26 are the first of a total of 104 that Israel has decided in principle to free as part of the agreement reached after shuttle diplomacy by US Secretary of State John Kerry.

In Gaza the Nashabat family have been counting the hours until they see 52-year-old Mohammad who has spent the last 23 years in jail.

“I’ve never felt as happy as I feel today,” said Mohammad’s son, Mahmoud. “It’s so hard growing up without a father – a father’s presence is essential, a father teaches, sometimes he can be tough sometimes he can be easy – that’s a father. Thank God, it is as if I am a child and we can start from the beginning.”

Families of the victims the prisoners were convicted of killing have had 48 hours in which to appeal against their release – but many Israelis see the whole process as a betrayal.

Gila Molcho, whose brother was killed is among those against the release:

“I want the government to understand that they are giving the wrong message to our youth, because our youth are understanding now that their blood has no worth and they are giving the wrong message to the other side, that they should go ahead and kill because it gives them power.”

Israel has sweetened the deal to far-right members by announcing more Jewish settlement building in occupied areas – a move roundly condemned by the UN and European Union.

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