Israel Releases 198 Palestinians

Freed prisoners intended to shore up Fatah PM Abbas; some in Israel fuming
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 25, 2008 9:09 AM CDT
Israel Releases 198 Palestinians
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, center, speaks to released prisoners upon their arrival at the President's headquarters.   (AP Photo)

Israel today released 198 Palestinian prisoners in an effort to bolster Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas, the AFP reports. The release, on the eve of a visit by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, included two prisoners held since the late 1970s who were convicted of murdering Israelis. One of them, a Fatah party member who killed an Israeli settler in Hebron, was elected to parliament in 2006.

In Ramallah, Abbas told a welcoming crowd, “The release of this group fills us with joy, but we will not be satisfied until all prisoners are released.” One Israeli politician, a contender to succeed Ehud Olmert as prime minister, said “this is a decision conveying weakness and an acceptance of the existing situation,” the BBC reports. One prisoner was struck from the list because he was from Hamas-controlled Gaza; ministers voted to block his release until Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit is freed, Haaretz reports.

(More Israel stories.)

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