Israel is set to release hundreds of Palestinian prisoners on Sunday, in the second phase of a deal reached with the Islamic Hamas movement in October to free Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, reported Xinhua
The Israel Prison Service (IPS) on Thursday transferred 550 Palestinian prisoners slated to be freed to Ofer and Ayalon prisons to prepare for their release.
"We separated them in two prisons to handle the transfer more comfortably," IPS spokeswoman Sivan Weizman told Xinhua, "and they will be taken from there to the Betunia crossing on the West Bank on Sunday evening."
The IPS published a list of the prisoners detailing their names, where they were arrested and the number of years they were sentenced to, with the longest being 15 years.
In the deal with Hamas, Israel agreed to exchange 1,027 Palestinians in Israeli prisons for Shalit's release, after his abduction to Gaza in June, 2006.
The Justice Ministry also announced the opening of a hotline for citizens to file petitions against the prisoner exchange.
Israelis, in numerous interviews and surveys, were split over support for the deal, since many of the prisoners had killed hundreds of Israelis in deadly attacks.
Meanwhile, the Middle East Peace Quartet called for renewed talks on Thursday, in another attempt to revive peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian National Authority (PNA).
Following separate meetings of Quartet envoys with Israeli and PNA representatives on Wednesday, the Quartet asked for new negotiations "without delay or preconditions."
The envoys stressed "the important objective of a direct exchange between the parties beginning with a preparatory meeting and leading to the presentation of proposals on territory and security."
It's the third time the Quartet -- composed of Russia, the United Nations, the European Union and the United States -- visited the region in a bid to revive stalled peace negotiations, with the last on Sept. 23, when PNA President Mahmoud Abbas went to the UN to ask for the recognition of a Palestinian state.