[JURIST] The Israeli cabinet on Monday approved the release of 429 Palestinian prisoners as a gesture of good will toward Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas [BBC profile] in the wake of talks renewed peace talks between Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert [official website] at last week's Annapolis peace conference [joint understanding text]. Most of the released inmates belong to Abbas' secular Fatah movement. By releasing them, Israel hopes to heighten support for Abbas and diminish support for rival militant group Hamas [JURIST news archive; BBC backgrounder], which rejects peace talks with the Jewish state.
Israel released 441 prisoners [JURIST report] in mid-November in the run-up to Annapolis. Israel also made significant releases of Palestinian prisoners in October and July [JURIST reports]. Reuters has more.