Israel is expected to release a second group of 30 Palestinian prisoners on October 29 as part of ongoing peace efforts, Palestinian and Israeli sources told The Times of Israel Monday.
The batch will include more members of the group of 104 pre-Oslo Peace Accords inmates Israel has pledged to release, contingent on progress in the talks. Twenty-six prisoners were released in the first wave on August 13, just after talks started.
The most dangerous prisoners would be banished to the Gaza Strip, Yedioth Ahronoth reported. The government still has not approved the release, the paper said.
The Prime Minister’s Office declined to confirm the reports, but said a public notice would be sent out before any prisoner release and it would not be done in the dead of night.
Israel agreed in July to a four-stage release of 104 prisoners, many of whom were convicted of brutal murders, serving sentences for acts of terror committed before the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993.
The agreement was intended as a sign of good faith ahead of the renewed American-brokered peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.
The Palestinian Authority and the United States had asked Israel to release the prisoners in time for the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha last week, but Israel denied that request, according to a report earlier in the month.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has faced pressure from hawkish ministers to delay or cancel the prisoner releases in the wake of a series of violent incidents in the West Bank in recent weeks, including the killing of two IDF soldiers and an attack that wounded a nine-year-old girl in the settlement of Psagot.
Netanyahu has resisted the pressure from the right and plans to release the prisoners on schedule, the prime minister’s representative in the peace talks, attorney Yitzhak Molcho, assured Palestinian and American officials in recent days.