Israel Releases 10 Jordanian Prisoners

Israel's Cabinet decided Sunday to release 10 Jordanian prisoners in a gesture marking the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan (search).

None of the 10 prisoners to be released Tuesday were convicted of killing Israelis, a government official said on condition of anonymity. Four are being held for security-related offenses, such as assisting in attacks or holding weapons.

The release will mark the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr (search), which comes after Ramadan ends in the next few days.

Jordan's State Minister Asma Khader said earlier this month that Israel had agreed to release 25 prisoners. She called that number "insufficient" and demanded another 56 Jordanians be freed.

Israel repeatedly has refused to release four Jordanians convicted of killing Israelis before the two countries signed a peace agreement in 1994.

The decision comes as Germans mediate intense talks between Israel and the Lebanese guerrilla group Hezbollah to obtain the release of an Israeli businessman and the bodies of three Israeli soldiers captured by Hezbollah (search) in October 2000.

In exchange, Israel is set to release some 400 Palestinian and Lebanese prisoners.

Initially, Hezbollah wanted Israel to release the Jordanian prisoners as part of its swap, but Israel decided to keep the Jordanian prisoners out of it.

Israel has carried out many prisoner swaps with Arab countries since declaring independence in 1948, almost always giving more prisoners and bodies than it received in return.