Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas will free scores of Hamas terrorists and supporters arrested this week by PA security forces.

Abbas issued the order late Thursday night from Tunis, where he held talks with Tunisian officials. According to the announcement, the mass prisoner release will be carried out by Sunday.

Fatah forces have arrested approximately 200 Hamas terrorists in Judea and Samaria, more or less matching the number of Fatah loyalists rounded up by Hamas forces in Gaza last week.

The Hamas roundup came in the wake of a beachside explosion that left five terrorists and one little girl dead. Hamas blamed Fatah for the blast, but Fatah denied responsibility for the attack.

Gaza terrorists also kidnapped German ARD TV cameraman Sawah Abu Seif following the blast. Terrorists released him early Thursday morning in Gaza after holding the 42-year-old broadcast journalist for five days without allowing him to contact his family or a lawyer. Seif refused to comment after his release. Before his release, his boss was sure Seif had been tortured.

Another Attempt at Reconciliation by Abbas

Thursday night's announcement by Abbas, reported by the official PA news agency, is seen as a bid to end the current round of kidnappings, arrests and resurging violence between the two factions.

Abbas agreed earlier in the week to renewed unity talks with Hamas following his meeting Sunday in Cairo with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. The PA Chairman announced at a news conference following that meeting that Egyptian officials would immediately begin the process of coordinating reconciliation talks between the two factions.

Abbas's willingness to re-unite with Hamas came in the face of billions of dollars in aid that Israel and Western nations have given Abbas to help prop up his government at the expense of Hamas.

Abbas's willingness to re-unite with Hamas came in the face of billions of dollars in aid that Israel and Western nations that have given Abbas.

Hundreds of PA terrorists have been freed and hundreds of fugitives granted amnesty by Israel, in addition to wide-ranging security concessions as part of numerous "good will gestures" made in an effort to ratchet up Abbas's credit on the PA street.

Abbas has also received billions of dollars in aid, including weaponry and other equipment from the United States, Israel and other Western nations since Fatah split from Hamas. Quartet Middle East envoy Tony Blair raised more than seven billion dollars in pledges at an international forum for a five-year economic development program to help get the cash-strapped PA back on its feet.

Final status talks between Israel and the PA were resumed on the condition that Abbas would not reunite with Hamas, which has refused to recognize Israel's right to exist, renounce terrorism or uphold agreements signed by previous PA governments.

Abbas has said he will continue talks with whoever replaces Prime Minister Ehud Olmert as head of the Israeli government. However, both PA and Israeli negotiators have said it will be impossible to close a final status deal for a PA state by the end of this year -- a goal expressed by the Bush administation last November in Annapolis.