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Israel to release prisoners

Last updated: 2004-12-20

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jail

Israel has agreed to free 170 Palestinian prisoners.

The release is part of a promise Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon made to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to secure the release this month of an Israeli jailed by Egypt on espionage charges.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon called Sunday's decision a goodwill gesture toward the Egyptian leader.

The Palestinians are expected to be freed in the next week.

The prisoners' identities were not immediately known, but Israel has said it would not release those it said had "blood on their hands."

Palestinian officials have long demanded the release of thousands of prisoners held by Israel. They have also criticized previous prisoner releases as inadequate.