Abbas celebrates prisoners' release

Photo: Abbas celebrates prisoners' release / Israel-Arab Relations

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas greeted 18 Palestinian prisoners released to the West Bank early Tuesday by Israel, dpa reported.

"It is a happy day for all of us and for our heroic prisoners who have come out today to live as free people," said Abbas, surrounded by the prisoners and making a victory sign.

Israel released a total of 26 Palestinian prisoners early Tuesday as part of five-month-old peace negotiations. "It is like I came out from the grave and into life once again," said Adnan Afandi, released to the West Bank after serving 21 years of a 30-year sentence.

Abbas told the crowd that he will not sign a peace agreement with Israel without release of all Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, who currently number almost 5000.

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