12/31/2013, 00.00
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Israel frees 26 Palestinian prisoners, but legalizes 20 settlements in the West Bank

Prisoners release took place overnight. Shortly before the release, Israel passed a bill to legalize 20 settlements in the Jordan Valley, home to around 15 thousand settlers.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The Israeli government has freed 26 Palestinian prisoners in accordance with the peace negotiations led by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who will return to the region this week to revive the dialogue between Israel and Palestine.

The release took place last night, after an Israeli court rejected a last minute appeal from the families of the victims . The 26 Palestinians are the third part of a group of 104 prisoners aged 20 to 30 years sentenced for violent acts committed prior to the recognition of the Palestine Liberation Organization ( PLO ) in 1993. Welcoming the former prisoners in Ramallah , Mahmoud Abbas , President of the Palestinian Authority announced that there will be no agreement with Israel until all prisoners are released .

However, as was the case for the first and the second phase of releases, the news was accompanied by new measures to legalize more settlements in the West Bank . Yesterday, an Israeli ministerial committee gave preliminary approval to a bill that provides for the extension of Israeli law to twenty agricultural villages in the Jordan Valley, where there are nearly 15 thousand settlers.

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