JERUSALEM (AP) – Israel says it will shortly release 229 Palestinian prisoners as a goodwill gesture to the western-backed government of President Mahmoud Abbas.
The prisoners were to have been let out last week for the Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday but Israel says that Palestinian officials asked for their release to be postponed until Abbas returned from a pilgrimage to Mecca and was able to personally greet the freed prisoners.
A senior Abbas aide denied the president made such a request.
Israel’s prison service said Sunday that the prisoners would be set free Monday morning. All of them belong to Abbas’ Fatah movement.
Israel is holding peace talks with Abbas and his West Bank-based administration while shunning the rival Hamas government in the Gaza Strip.