BEIJING, Aug. 14 (Xinhuanet) -- Israel has released 26 Palestinian prisoners, including some convicted of murder, on the eve of the long-stalled Middle-East peace talks. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas personally has greeted some of the prisoners at the presidential compound in Ramallah, and he has delivered a short speech congratulating those freed.
Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian President, said, "We tell the released prisoners and we tell you, that the rest of the prisoners will come out, you are just the beginning and the rest will come, and you will see them here."
The 26 were freed as a goodwill gesture by Israel to encourage US-brokered peace talks with the Palestinians. Tuesday’s release was part of an agreement brokered by US Secretary of State John Kerry to get Israel and Palestine back to the table for peace talks that had been paralysed since 2008.
In all, 104 convicts are to be released in four batches, although their freedom is contingent on progress in peace talks. Israelis and Palestinians are to launch talks in Jerusalem on Wednesday, following a preparatory round two weeks ago in Washington.