Israel frees Palestinian prisoners ahead of talks
RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territories (AFP) - Israel freed 26 Palestinian prisoners on Wednesday, hours before the two sides were to hold new direct peace talks amid a growing row over settlements.
A group of 15 crossed into the Gaza Strip at about 1.40am (6.40am Singapore time) and were mobbed by relatives as they got out of a bus next to the border.
At about the same time another 11 prisoners arrived in the West Bank city of Ramallah to a welcome from Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas and thousands of cheering, dancing supporters.
"This is the first group," Abbas told the crowd at an official welcoming ceremony at his Muqataa headquarters compound.