The Palestinian authorities have finalized the preparations for the release of 26 prisoners, seen as a confidence building gesture from Israel to help sweeten the bitter pill of resuming direct peace talks.
Officials said Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas will head the reception ceremony Tuesday night at the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) headquarters, where senior PNA officials and the prisoners’ families will also be present.
At the end of the ceremony, 15 prisoners will be brought to their homes in Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip and 11 others will stay in the West Bank.
The delivery of the prisoners was part of a deal to free 104 prisoners arrested before signing Oslo peace accords between Israel and the Palestinians in 1993.
The Palestinians agreed to resume the peace talks sponsored by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry after Israel pledged to gradually free 104 prisoners from its jails during the nine-month period to finalize the peace negotiations between the two sides. There are around 4,500 Arab terrorists kept in Israeli jails.
Qadoura Fares, chairman of the Palestinian Prisoner Club Association, told Xinhua that the Palestinians “refuse the deportation or the expelling of any prisoner out of the Palestinian territories.
“All of them should go home,” he said.
Of the prisoners to be released, 17 were sentenced to life imprisonment and nine others to 20 to 25 years imprisonment. 19 have spent more than 19 years in Israeli jails, Abdul Nasser Ferwana, a Palestinian expert in prisoners’ affairs, told Xinhua.