The Israeli government decided Sunday to release 400 Palestinian prisoners to improve relations in the &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/main/2002/04/18/27769.html ' target=_blank>Middle East.
The cabinet decision starts a process that will see a committee decide who among the 7,000 prisoners is eligible to be freed.
The planned release supports the truce between Israel and the Palestinians, and may help buttress the credibility of Palestinian leader &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/world/20/91/366/14577_arafat.html ' target=_blank>Mahmoud Abbas.
Early this year, Israel said it would release up to 900 of the Palestinians it holds as part of the truce negotiated between Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
About 500 were freed in February.
Abbas, who is under pressure from militants, needs to show results to prove his more moderate approach to Israel will work.
Hamas militants are expected to do well in the Palestinian legislative elections set for July, informs CBC News.