Israel to free first group of Palestinian prisoners for peace talks

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - An Israeli cabinet panel decided on Sunday to free 26 Palestinian prisoners over the next few days under a deal that led to a resumption of U.S.-brokered peace talks last month after a three-year hiatus, an official statement said.

The prisoners would be the first of four groups totaling 104 that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's cabinet last month agreed to release in a step aimed at renewing negotiations. The decision comes three days before a scheduled second round of Israeli-Palestinian talks being held in Israel and the West Bank.

(Writing by Allyn Fisher-Ilan)