Israel's cabinet on Sunday decided to free 250 Palestinian prisoners in an effort to bolster Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and the emergency government he formed after Hamas took over the Gaza Strip. Following the cabinet approval, Israeli authorities will finalize a release roster comprised of prisoners from Abbas' Fatah faction.
Israeli premier Ehud Olmert on Saturday sent back the list of the Palestinian prisoners slated for release to the Shin Bet security service and Justice Ministry, demanding the removal of several dozen names. According to Haaretz, he ordered that a new list be drawn up of prisoners with more time to serve of their jail sentences.
An Israeli political source conveyed that the criteria for release will favor prisoners who have served two-thirds of their sentence. Spokeswoman for Olmert, Miri Eisin, said Israel would allow 48 hours for the releases to be challenged in petitions to the supreme court.