JERUSALEM – The Israeli government agreed Sunday to release 104 Palestinian prisoners over the next nine months as a gesture to lure Palestinian leaders back to the negotiating table.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the deal, while painful for the family members of those killed in terrorist attacks, was vital to Israel’s security and stability.
After a long debate Sunday, he won 13 votes from his 22-member cabinet. Seven members opposed and two abstained.
Netanyahu faced considerable pressure from U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who is hoping to renew talks in Washington on Tuesday between representatives from both sides.
Protesters outside the prime minister’s office criticized the decision, saying it will reward terrorists and free criminals with “blood on their hands.”