Report: Israel orders release of Palestinians

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered the release of more than 20 Palestinian prisoners from Israeli custody, just as Washington attempts to restart peace talks.

The mass release, slated for early next week, comes days before a scheduled meeting between Secretary of State John Kerry and top leaders of the Palestinian Authority, according to CNN.

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Tel Aviv had initially agreed to the prisoner release in July, ahead of the most recent round of talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

"In the wake of the Government's 28 July 2013 decision to resume the diplomatic process between Israel and the Palestinian Authority and authorize a ministerial team on the release of prisoners during the negotiations, the release of 26 Palestinian prisoners was authorized this evening," according to a statement from Netanyahu's office.

The statement said the prisoners "perpetrated offenses prior to the Oslo accords and have served sentences of 19-28 years."

A list of the prisoners' names was to be published Saturday night on Israel's Prison Service website, CNN reports.

Kerry's visit to the Middle East, announced on Saturday, will be his 10th trip to the region as the Obama administration's top diplomat.

Kerry plans to build upon progress made in peace negotiations between Tel Aviv and Beirut since July, a senior Palestinian official said Saturday.