Israel plans to free 87 Palestinian prisoners early next week, Israeli officials said Tuesday. The release had been expected to take place this week. But Israeli officials said it will now occur next Monday. According to the AP, they said the date had been coordinated with Palestinian authorities.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert hopes the gesture will help strengthen Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas in his rivalry with Hamas.
On Monday, US President George W. Bush met with Abbas Monday to discuss a planned peace conference aiming to map a future Palestinian state. The American leader expressed his support for the establishment of Palestine.
Bush said: "I am convinced that he is dedicated to the formation of a Palestinian democracy that will live in peace with their neighbor Israel. And I believe the Prime Minister of Israel is dedicated to the same vision. And therefore as I told the president, the United States of America will work as hard as we possibly can to help you achieve the vision."