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Israel Releases Third Round of Palestinian Prisoners

December 31, 2013 By:
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Thousands of Palestinians welcome Mahmoud Daajna, just released after spending more than 20 years in Israeli prison, at Shuafat camp in East Jerusalem. Daajna was part of the third stage of a deal brokered by the United States in July that brought a resumption of peace talks. Photo from Flash90.

JERUSALEM — Israel released a third group of Palestinian prisoners as part of a deal aimed at jumpstarting peace negotiations.

Israel freed 26 prisoners late Monday night in the third of four scheduled releases of a total of 104 Palestinians jailed for killing Israeli citizens, according to news reports.

The release came despite a Supreme Court petition from the organization Almagor, which represents victims of terrorism. The group asked the court to prevent the release of six of the prisoners who are residents of eastern Jerusalem and hold Israeli identification cards.

The prisoners were greeted with a hero’s welcome in the West Bank and Gaza. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas waited through the night to greet the men at his headquarters in Ramallah, the Associated Press reported.

Demonstrations against the release including family members of terrorist victims have been held outside the Prime Minister’s Jerusalem residence for the last several days, with a large-scale protest and vigil on Monday night. While the group’s request to hold the large-scale protest beginning on Sunday night through the release was at first denied, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat told demonstrators he would see to it that they be allowed to hold the protest.

To see footage of the release, click on the video icon at the top right of the screen.

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