Israel To Free 104 Palestinian Prisoners

Palestinian men sit in their brown priso

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Israel will free 104 Palestinian prisoners to coincide with the resumption of long-stalled peace talks brokered by the United States.

“I agreed to free 104 Palestinians in stages, after the start of negotiations and according to progress,” he wrote on his official Facebook page on Saturday.

The PM did not give details on those to be freed or confirm reports that talks would open in Washington on Tuesday.

A Palestinian official earlier told AFP that the Washington meeting would be attended by chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat, his Israeli counterpart Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and US officials.

The sides are expected to meet for an informal dinner on Monday evening, on the eve, he said.

Israel’s Regional Development Minister Silvan Shalom said this week that talks could resume next Tuesday, but neither the date nor venue have so far been confirmed.

“At this time, it seems most important to me that the state of Israel enter (negotiations),” Netanyahu wrote.

“This is important both to maximise the possibility of ending the conflict with the Palestinians and to solidify Israel’s position in the complex international reality surrounding us,” he added, writing in Hebrew.

Sunday’s weekly cabinet meeting will hear a formal statement from Netanyahu on the resumption of peace talks and mandate a ministerial committee to handle the prisoner release, the government website said.