A Palestinian demonstrator waves a Palestinian flag
A Palestinian demonstrator waves a Palestinian flag. Photo by AP
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Israel has agreed to return the remains of 36 Palestinians currently buried in Israel to the Palestinian Authority, according to the independent Palestinian news service Ma'an.

The news service quoted Salim Khillah, a spokesman for a committee to retrieve Palestinian remains from Israeli custody, as saying on Friday that Israel had agreed to release the remains as a gesture to encourage the Palestinian Authority to continue with peace negotiations.

He said the first body – that of Majdi Abd al-Jawad Khanfar, who was killed in 2002 when he and another member of Fatah's military wing attacked an Israeli checkpoint in the West Bank, killing an Israeli soldier - would be returned on Sunday at the Taybeh checkpoint near Tulkarem.

A military funeral will be held in Khanfar's home village of Silat al-Dhahir, Khillah added.

Ma'an quoted a spokesman for the Israeli human rights group HaMoked as saying the return of the remains was in line with a ruling by the Israeli Supreme Court that all Palestinian remains held by Israel should be returned.

He said a DNA match for Khanfar's body had already been confirmed, but that DNA tests for the others were still yet to be completed.