Israel approves new Fatah prisoner amnesty


Israel’s Cabinet approved the release of 200 jailed Palestinians as a gesture to Mahmoud Abbas.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his Cabinet colleagues voted Sunday in favor of Israel’s latest amnesty for prisoners linked to Fatah, the Palestinian Authority president’s Western-backed faction.

The 200 Palestinians, who are expected to go free on Aug. 25 ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, include two terrorists jailed for serious attacks on Israelis before the 1993 Oslo interim peace accords.

Hamas, which is locked in a power struggle with Fatah and opposes Abbas’ negotiations with Olmert, denounced the planned amnesty as a bid by Israel to “sow division” among Palestinians.

Israel has already freed 429 Palestinian prisoners, the majority of them from Fatah, since President Bush revived peace talks last November.

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