Israel to release second batch of Palestinian prisoners
Scenes of jubilation swept the West Bank when the first batch of prisoners were released in August. (AFP/File)
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Israel is expected to release a second group of Palestinian prisoners next week, according to Israeli media.
Palestinian and Israeli officials told The Times of Israel that 30 Palestinians are to be released on Oct. 29 as part of a gesture to coincide with a return to peace talks with the PLO.
The first group of 26 veteran prisoners, including 17 who had life sentences, took place on Aug. 14. A total of 104 prisoners is expected to be released by Israel.
In early October, Israel rejected a request from the Palestinian Authority to bring forward the second release date to coincide with the Eid al-Adha holiday.
The remaining prisoners will be released on Dec. 29 and March 28, the Palestinian Authority's minister of detainees Issa Qaraqe said last month.
The planned releases stirred protests from Israeli victims' families, settlers and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's hardline coalition partners.
There are 5,007 Palestinians in Israeli prisons and detention centers, including 137 people held without trial, 12 women and 180 children, according to Addameer prisoners group.
US-sponsored direct peace talks resumed in late July after a hiatus of nearly three years, although both sides have kept a tight lid on the substance under discussion at the request of Washington.
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