Hamas says it is considering the counter-demands that Israel has delivered for a deal to exchange the arrested Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit with hundreds of long-serving Palestinian prisoners.
A Hamas official said on Wednesday, that while progress has been made, a deal was not imminent. “Hamas says it needs a few days to make a decision on the Israeli proposal conveyed through the German mediator. The movement will contact the go-between once the proposal is thoroughly studied,” a Hamas spokesman Taher al-Nunu said on Wednesday.
Sources involved in prisoner exchange talks say that Tel Aviv insists on expelling some West Bank-born prisoners to the Gaza Strip or abroad and balks at releasing ‘heavyweight’ prisoners Marwan Barghouti and Ahmed Sa’adat.
The status of Sa’adat and Barghouti is one of the most sensitive issues in the discussions on the Hamas-Israel prisoner swap deal.
Israel would likely release 980 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Shalit, who has been in Hamas custody for over three years.
More than 11,500 Palestinians, including women and children, are currently imprisoned in Israeli detention facilities, suffering harsh and life-threatening conditions.