Israel to free 26 Palestinians on Monday: source

Israel to free 26 Palestinians on Monday: source
Relatives of Israeli victims who were killed by Palestinians join protesters rallying against the upcoming release of Palestinian prisoners, in front of the Prime Minister's official residence in Jerusalem December 28, 2013. Israel has informed the United States of its plans to release the next group of Palestinian prisoners on Dec. 30 under a U.S.-brokered peace plan, the State Department said on Friday.

JERUSALEM - The 26 Palestinian prisoners Israel has agreed to free as part of ongoing peace talks will be released on Monday, a source in Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said.

Netanyahu had agreed to the release of 104 Palestinian prisoners in line with commitments to the US-backed peace talks, which resumed in July, and groups have been freed on August 13 and October 30.

"Their release should come on Monday night after the 48-hour delay given for appeals from victims' families to the supreme court," the official in Netanyahu's office told AFP on condition of anonymity.

In the past, Israel's supreme court has turned down all appeals against the release of Palestinian prisoners.

Netanyahu's government gave the green light on Saturday for the latest tranche of prisoners to be freed.

"All of the released prisoners perpetrated offences prior to the (1993) Oslo accords and have served sentences of 19-28 years," an Israeli government statement on Saturday said.

"If any of those to be released resume hostile activity they will be returned to serve the remainder of their sentences," the statement warned.

The planned release of the latest group of detainees comes as US Secretary of State John Kerry prepares for a fresh tour of the region on New Year's Day to try to push talks forward.

It will be his 10th trip to Israel and the West Bank since March, with his most recent visit in early December.

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