JERUSALEM, Dec. 28 (Xinhua) -- The Israeli government approved Saturday the release of 26 more Palestinian detainees as part of goodwill gestures for the resumption of its peace talks with the Palestinians.
A ministerial committee headed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu authorized the release of the Palestinian prisoners Saturday evening, whose names will be published soon on Israel's Prison Service website, said a statement issued by Netanyahu's media adviser.
"All of the released prisoners perpetrated offenses prior to the Oslo accords and have served sentences of 19-28 years," the statement said, adding that the release of the prisoners will be carried out at least 48 hours after their names are published.
The release will be the third out of four batches involving 104 Palestinians that will be freed from Israeli jails before the April deadline the United States set for Israel and Palestine to conclude their peace talks.
Fifty-two Palestinian prisoners have been freed in the previous two releases since Israel and Palestine agreed to restart their direct peace talks in late July.
The announcement on the latest prisoner release came days before U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's visit to Israel and Palestine, the 10th of its kind this year.
U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on Saturday that Kerry will return to the Middle East to meet with Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on the ongoing final status negotiations.
The United States is seeking to broker an agreement on a "two-state solution" in which Israel would exist peacefully alongside a new Palestinian state.
Kerry reportedly wants the two sides to agree on a framework for an interim accord ahead of a deal in April, which would launch another year of talks aimed at a full-blown peace treaty.
According to Israeli media reports, Netanyahu is expected to announce the building of hundreds of homes in Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, a move that the Palestinian side has warned will derail the peace talks.
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