Israel’s Cabinet approved the release of 90 Palestinian prisoners as a goodwill gesture toward the Mahmoud Abbas administration.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert won majority Cabinet support Sunday for freeing the prisoners, who are serving terms for terrorist attacks that did not cause fatalities. Most of the inmates are from Abbas’ Fatah faction, though some also are from smaller secular groups.
None is from Hamas, which Abbas has been trying to sideline since its takeover of Gaza in June.
Israel wants to help shore up Abbas in Palestinian eyes ahead of a U.S.-sponsored peace conference expected in November. A similar prisoner amnesty was ordered in July.
“This is a gesture that has been accepted in the past,” Olmert told his Cabinet in broadcast remarks. “The prisoners will be freed according to criteria that already exist.”
The Palestinians are to be freed toward the end of Ramadan, although the roster must first be published in Israel to allow lobbies of terror victims to contest it.