Arab League to send delegation to Israel

The 22-country Arab League will send envoys on a historic first mission to Israel this week to discuss a sweeping Arab peace initiative and how it might prop up embattled Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, Israeli and Arab diplomats said Sunday. The announcement came the same day Israel's Cabinet approved the release of 250 Palestinian prisoners in a bid to bolster Abbas in his power struggle with Hamas. An official League visit would be a diplomatic coup for Israel. The League historically has been hostile toward the Jewish state, but has grown increasingly conciliatory given the expanding influence of Islamic extremists in the region - a concern underscored by Hamas' violent takeover of the Gaza Strip last month.