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Peace talks between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators began in private today amid the expectation that they could quickly founder over the issue of Israeli settlements.
It was in stark contrast to the celebrations marking the homecomings of 26 Palestinian prisoners after years spent in Israeli jails.
ITV News' Middle East correspondent Geraint Vincent reports from Jerusalem:
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Palestinian families in the West Bank and Gaza welcomed home relatives who were earlier freed from Israeli jails.
Israel released 26 Palestinian prisoners, including some convicted of murder, on the eve of long-stalled Mideast peace talks.
Esmat Mansour said:"I feel great, I wished and waited for 20 years for this moment, to be here with my mother and father, and with my family and friends".
He received a 22 year sentence after being convicted of aiding a Palestinian cell that murdered an Israeli man in the settlement of Beit El.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas welcomed some of the 26 prisoners released by Israel on Tuesday upon their much celebrated return to the West Bank.
The release was part of an agreement brokered by US Secretary of State John Kerry to get Israel and the Palestinians back to the table for peace talks that had stalled since 2008.
In toral, 104 convicts will be released in four batches, although their freedom is contingent on progress in peace talks.
Twenty-six Palestinian prisoners released by Israel have arrived in the West Bank and Gaza.
About a thousand people took to the streets of Ramallah in celebration, singing and dancing.
The move came ahead of Middle East peace talks due to take place later today.
Israel's release of 26 Palestinian prisoners, a bargaining tool towards the peace talks that continue in Jerusalem tomorrow, has begun tonight in the Middle East.
The prisoners are being driven towards their homes in the West Bank and Gaza, where they will be greeted as returning heroes.
ITV News Middle East Correspondent Geraint Vincent, though, found their freedom has stirred real emotion on both sides:
A Gaza band equipped with bagpipes and drums have marched in celebration of the release of long-held Palestinian prisoners from an Israeli jail.
A large Palestinian crowd has gathered in Gaza ready to celebrate the freeing of 26 Palestinian prisoners by the Israeli prison service.
US Secretary of State John Kerry has held a "very frank" phone call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a bid to keep the move towards Middle East peace on track.
Mr Kerry said he held a "very frank and open, direct discussion of (Israel's announced new) settlements" that Palestinian negotiators said had threatened to "undermine" talks, which are set to resume tomorrow in Jerusalem.
He also spoke with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who he said was "committed to continue to come to this negotiation," despite the building of 1,000 new apartments in Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.
Israel's prison service has said it has begun the process of releasing 26 Palestinian prisoners ahead of peace talks.
The prisoners form the first of four groups totalling 104 that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's cabinet last month agreed to free in a step aimed at renewing negotiations.
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Israel has listed 26 Palestinian prisoners it is ready to release, but critics say this pledge has been undermined by more settlement plans