Palestinian prisoners released

worldfreedpalentiniansreturninghomeIsrael has released 26 Palestinian prisoners as part of a deal that will see peace talks resume today.

Buses carrying the inmates drove them from a prison in central Israel to the Beitunia checkpoint in the West Bank and the Erez crossing with Gaza.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas greeted the 11 sent to the West Bank, while crowds met the other 15 in Gaza.

Israeli and Palestinian representatives are set to begin direct talks in Jerusalem after a three-year hiatus.

Few details have been released from either side about the location, timing or agenda of the talks, but some reports say US mediator Martin Indyk will be present.

The resumption continues to be overshadowed by the issue of Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.

On Wednesday, Israeli Housing Minister Uri Ariel vowed to build “thousands of homes” in the West Bank.

The issue halted the last direct talks in September 2010 and Palestinian representatives have accused Israel of trying to sabotage the latest negotiations. (Reuters)

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