The list of prisoners to be freed does not include those who Israeli officials say have participated in attacks on Israelis or those who still have two years to serve in prisons or who have not completed two-thirds of their sentences, said Aljazeera correspondent Walid al-Umari in Ram Allah.

The first prisoners could be freed as early as Monday, al-Umari said.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon announced last week that 900 prisoners would be freed, 500 in days and 400 in the next few weeks to bolster Abbas, who reached a ceasefire with the Israeli leader at a summit in Egypt five days ago.

Release may be appealed

Their names will first be published on a government website, giving the public an opportunity to appeal against the release of individual prisoners.

Freedom for about 8000 Palestinians in Israeli jails is an emotive issue for Palestinians, who regard them as heroes of an uprising against Israeli occupation that began more than four years ago.

"This is not an easy step, but this gesture possibly could help the Palestinian Authority solidify its rule and boost trust between the two sides," a government statement quoted Sharon as telling cabinet ministers.