Olmert, Abbas hold talks: Israel to free 250 prisoners on Friday
Israel will release 250 Palestinian prisoners later this week - nearly all of them from the Fatah, a spokesman for the Israeli prime minister confirmed Monday.
The prisoner release, intended to bolster Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, will take place on Friday, said Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's spokesman, Jacob Galanti. According to him, 85 percent of the prisoners would come from Abbas' Fatah faction, with the remainder coming from smaller Palestinian parties. None will come from Hamas, he said, according to the AP.
Galanti made the announcement after a two-hour meeting between the Israeli and Palestinian leaders at Olmert's official residence in Jerusalem.
He said the prisoners have been involved in violence against Israel, but none "has blood on their hands," an Israeli reference to direct involvement in deadly attacks. He said the release would take place at spots throughout the West Bank.
Ahead of the talks, Palestinian officials said Abbas would push for a launch of talks on a final peace agreement. Abbas has repeatedly urged Israel to resume talks aimed at creating an independent Palestinian state. "The main task for the president [Abbas] is to resume negotiations toward the endgame," said Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat.
Olmert and Abbas also agreed to meet again in two weeks in the West Bank town of Jericho.