Israel plans new prisoner amnesty


Israel will free another 441 Palestinian prisoners as a goodwill gesture ahead of the Annapolis peace conference.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert ‘s Cabinet voted Monday on a third prisoner amnesty designed to bolster the domestic standing of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. The amnesty of prisoners, all from Abbas’ Fatah movement, is effective Nov. 23.

Olmert and Abbas were scheduled to meet later in the day for their final one-on-one talk before next week’s conference in Annapolis, Md.

Most of the prisoners granted early releases by Israel this year have been from Abbas’ embattled Fatah faction. None have been from the rival Hamas.

Abbas had asked Israel to free 2,000 prisoners under the latest amnesty but was turned down. Israeli officials said that to release more than 450 would require a review of a long-standing policy against showing leniency toward terrorists jailed for deadly attacks.

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