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Israel Releases Palestinian Prisoners Just Before Peace Talks



JERUSALEM - Israel has released 26 Palestinian prisoners hours before the opening of renewed peace talks Wednesday. Eleven of the prisoners released in the West Bank were welcomed by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, while the other 15 were met by cheering crowds in Gaza.

A total 104 long-term prisoners are to be released over the next nine months, the Guardian reports. "We congratulate ourselves and our families for our brothers who left the darkness of the prisons for the light of the sun of freedom," Abbas said. "We say to them and to you that the remainder are on their way, these are just the first."

One of the prisoners released, Taher Zayoud, from Jenin, said: “I salute the great Palestinian people who stayed with us. They are the ones who secured our freedom and supported our cause”, the Telegraph reports.

A BBC correspondent noted how the prisoners are seen as heroes of the Palestinian cause, while regarded as terrorists on the Israeli side. Israeli families of the victims of the released prisoners, most of whom were convicted of murder or accessory to murder, were denied the appeal against their release and held protests and vigils. Palestinian families of the prisoners say that they are a product of their time, the oppression they have faced, and the fact that Palestinians are killed every day, BBC explains.

Renewed peace talks between Palestine and Israel resume today under the shadow of Israel’s recent approval of building nearly 1,000 new settler homes in occupied East Jerusalem and 900 homes to be built in Gilo, the Guardian reports. These settlements are considered illegal under international law and put the negotiations at risk. BBC explains that US Secretary of State John Kerry urged Palestinians "not to react adversely" to the settlement announcements. He went on to say that US opposition had been "communicated... very clearly to Israel".

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Will Winter Crack The Western Alliance In Ukraine?

Kyiv's troops are facing bitter cold and snow on the frontline, but the coming season also poses longer term political questions for Ukraine's allies. It may be now or never.

Ukraine soldier in winer firing a large canon with snow falling

Ukraine soldier firing a large cannon in winter.

Pierre Haski


PARIS — Weather is a weapon of war. And one place where that’s undoubtedly true right now is Ukraine. A record cold wave has gripped the country in recent days, with violent winds in the south that have cut off electricity of areas under both Russian and Ukrainian control. It's a nightmare for troops on the frontline, and survival itself is at stake, with supplies and movement cut off.

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This is the reality of winter warfare in this part of Europe, and important in both tactical and strategic terms. What Ukraine fears most in these circumstances are Russian missile or drone attacks on energy infrastructures, designed to plunge civilian populations into cold and darkness.

The Ukrainian General Staff took advantage of NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg's visit to Kyiv to ask the West to provide as many air defense systems as possible to protect these vital infrastructures. According to Kyiv, 90% of Russian missile launches are intercepted; but Ukraine claims that Moscow has received new weapon deliveries from North Korea and Iran, and has large amounts of stocks to strike Ukraine in the coming weeks.

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