Israel releases convicted Palestinian prisoners

Israel released more than two dozen Palestinian prisoners convicted in deadly attacks against Israelis early Tuesday as part of a U.S.-brokered package to restart Mideast peace talks.

After departing on buses from Israeli jails overnight, the prisoners received hero’s welcomes upon their return to the West Bank and Gaza with officials and jubilant relatives lining up to greet them. At his headquarters in Ramallah, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas waited to meet the men in the middle of the night. Speaking before thousands, he pledged to continue pressing for the release of long-serving and ill prisoners.

“We will not sign a final peace deal with Israel before all the prisoners are released,” he said.

In Israel, though, the release was accompanied by great anger and frustration with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu facing a public uproar from all directions over the move.

New York’s new mayor to take oath in modest home

Twelve years ago, Michael Bloomberg became mayor in front of a worldwide audience, taking the oath of office in Times Square moments after the clock struck midnight, symbolically ushering in a new era for the city months after the World Trade Center was destroyed in a terror attack.

Bill de Blasio, who framed much of his successful mayoral campaign as a clean break from Bloomberg, will deliberately take a far lower-key approach in the first moments of 2014, taking the oath in front of his family in their modest Brooklyn home, his transition team announced Monday.

State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman will officiate at the intimate ceremony at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, 12 hours before a much grander affair at City Hall. The new mayor will be flanked by his wife and their two teenage children in their row house. The private ceremony will be streamed live online at, and the transition team will release photos.

– From news service reports

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