Israel approves release of 432 Palestinians inmates

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JERUSALEM, Nov 20 (Reuters) Israel today approved the release of 432 Palestinian prisoners as a goodwill gesture to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas ahead of a peace conference to take place next week, an Israeli political source said.

An Israeli ministerial committee met to scrutinise a list of 441 Palestinian inmates who have been held in Israeli prisons and approved the release of 432 of their number.

The release is expected to take place before next Tuesday, the date of a US-sponsored conference on Palestinian statehood set to take place in Annapolis, Maryland.

Eight of the nine prisoners whose release was rejected were found to have switched their allegiance from Abbas's Fatah faction to rival Islamist group Hamas which refuses to deal with Israel.

The release of a ninth inmate was rejected because he had previously escaped from jail before being recaptured.

REUTERS DKS BST0213

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