[JURIST] Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert [official profile] told parliament Monday that the government was planning to release 400 more Palestinian prisoners later this month, adding to the release [JURIST report] last month of more than 80 Palestinian prisoners. The releases are meant as a gesture of good will toward Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas [BBC profile] in preparation for a US-sponsored peace conference [NPR report], scheduled to begin at the end of the month. Some 11,000 Palestinians remain in Israeli prisons, and their release has been demanded by Abbas and other Palestinian leaders who will participate in the peace talks.
Israel released 255 Palestinian prisoners [JURIST report] in July after the government determined that they were not directly involved [press release] in the killing or wounding of Israelis. Those prisoners were released in an effort to strengthen the moderate Fatah against more-hardline Hamas, which violently took over the Gaza Strip [BBC backgrounders] in June. Palestinian infighting between the Islamist-Hamas and the secular-Fatah has established two parallel Palestinian governments in the West Bank and Gaza. AP has more.