The FINANCIAL - According to RIA Novosti, the Israeli government adopted on November 19 a decision to release up to 450 Palestinian prisoners ahead of the upcoming U.S.-sponsored Annapolis peace summit, the prime minister's office said.
The release of Palestinian prisoners by Israel is widely being seen as an effort to bolster Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah movement, currently in a power struggle with the radical Islamist group Hamas, which seized control over the Gaza Strip in June.
The U.S.-sponsored Mideast peace conference is scheduled for the end of November, and is aimed at resuming Israeli-Palestinian dialogue after a seven-year break. The conference may result in a framework agreement outlining the principles for a peace settlement.
The Palestinian National Authority had earlier requested the release of 2,000 of the 10,000 Palestinians currently being held in Israeli prisons. The list of the prisoners to be released does not include those who have links with the deaths of Israeli nationals.