Israel Wants Freed Prisoners Sent to Gaza

Israel is objecting to the release of dozens of Palestinian prisoners with life sentences to their homes in the occupied West Bank in exchange for a captured Israeli soldier, Ma’an has learned.

Under a new proposal to arrange a prisoner swap of hundreds of Palestinian detainees in exchange for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, Israel wants certain prisoners to be released to Gaza instead of the West Bank.

Israel’s Channel 2 television, meanwhile, has unveiled new details of the involvement of international mediators trying to arrange the swap.

“Germany and France have prepared a new proposal of three points that were presented to the Egyptian military council to speed up implementing the swap deal,” Channel 2 reported.

The deal includes releasing 1,000 Palestinian prisoners, easing the Gaza siege and crossings, and allowing building projects in Gaza, according to the report.

Israel earlier this month denied reports of a breakthrough in negotiations to free Shalit, who was captured by Palestinian militants in 2006.

Egyptian security officials involved in the talks, meanwhile, have said the approach by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s new envoy to the talks, David Meidan, could scuttle the negotiations and lead to Shalit’s "disappearance."

The Egyptians said Meidan told Egyptian intelligence officials in Cairo last week that if Hamas did not agree to the latest deal proposed by Israel, there would be no deal at all, the Israeli daily Haaretz reported Sunday.

The Egyptians said the Hamas negotiators, headed by the group’s military chief, Ahmed Jabari, had responded to the Israeli approach with a clear threat that the talks would end and a deal for Shalit would be off the table, Haaretz said.

Hamas said Israel’s unwillingness to go further than its last offer would lead to Shalit’s disappearance, the Egyptians reportedly added.

The Egyptians said that after Meidan arrived in Cairo, it was obvious that Israel had no intention of compromising, according to the report. In contrast, Hamas and Jabari were willing to change their positions.

(Ma’an News)

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