JERUSALEM (AFP) -- Israel on Saturday announced it will release some Palestinian prisoners as a "gesture", as the two sides agreed to meet to pave the way for their first direct talks in three years.
The announcement came hours after US Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters in Amman late on Friday that Israeli and Palestinian negotiators had laid the groundwork to resume the frozen peace talks.
Kerry said that as a first step Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat and his Israeli counterpart Tzipi Livni would meet him in Washington "to begin initial talks within the next week or so".
The last round of direct talks broke down in 2010 over the issue of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem. The issue of continued expansion of illegal Jewish settlements remains one of the biggest stumbling blocks between the two sides.
On Saturday, Israeli Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz said his government would engage in the staged release of a "limited number" of prisoners, some of whom have been in Israeli jails for 30 years. more