Source AP ©

Israel releases 57 Palestinians

Fifty seven Palestinian prisoners were released by Israel and sent back to the West Bank in a gesture to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas ahead of a U.S.-sponsored Mideast peace conference this fall.

The prisoners arrived at Beitunia, near the West Bank city of Ramallah, after a two-hour journey from the Ketziot prison in southern Israel. The prisoners got off Israeli buses and kissed the ground before boarding a Palestinian bus. An ecstatic crowd of waiting relatives clapped and waved Palestinian flags.

Israel also was expected to free 30 Palestinian prisoners in the Gaza Strip, but the release was delayed. Officials gave no explanation for the delay.