Both sides expressed optimism as Israel released more than 250 Palestinian prisoners today, a sign of support for Mahmoud Abbas' government in its struggle with Hamas. Most of the prisoners were Fatah members, the AP reports; in keeping with the country's policy not to release prisoners incarcerated for killing or wounding Israelis, none were directly involved in attacks on Israelis.
Among the released was Abdel Rahim Malouh, a leader of a PLO splinter group that assassinated an Israeli cabinet minister in 2001. Israel holds more than 9,000 other Palestinian prisoners, and Abbas has vowed to arrange the release of all of them. Buses holding the 255 ex-prisoners met a celebratory reception in Ramallah, where supporters danced in the streets.