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Israeli cabinet approves release of 400 prisoners

[JURIST] Following a series of delays, Israel's Cabinet Sunday approved the release of 400 Palestinian prisoners. Cabinet members voted 18-3 to approve the release, which is the second phase of the 900 Palestinian prisoners negotiated as part of February 8 truce [JURIST report]. A panel will now meet to compile a list of those eligible to be freed. Earlier this month Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon [official profile] announced a postponement of the release [JURIST report] , alleging that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas [Wikipedia profile] was not upholding his promise to pressure Palestinian militants into a ceasefire. An Israeli government official stated that no one directly involved in deadly attacks on Israelis would be released, but Israel might consider freeing prisoners who haven't completed two-thirds of their terms. Supporters state that move will bolster the moderate Palestinian leadership ahead of the upcoming parliamentary elections. Opponents suggest that the release will only encourage terrorists. AP has more.

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