Prime Minister Ehud Olmert denied at the opening of hid briefing to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Monday reports of a deal on the release of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit in upcoming days.
"I know nothing about this," the PM said, adding that he first read about it in the newspapers.
Qatari newspaper al-Sharq reported that a security and diplomatic deal for the release of Corporal Shalit, is due to be signed within 48 hours. According to the report, Shalit will be freed in exchange for the release of 1,400 Palestinian prisoners jailed in Israel.
The agreement was brokered by the United States, France, Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria, Qatar and Egypt, the newspaper stated.
According to the same sources, Israel has prepared a list of prisoners to be freed. Al-Sharq also claimed that the delay in the announcement on the deal was the result of internal political difficulties in Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
The Qatar-based paper wrote that the deal has matured after a secret report was sent to the Palestinian factions in Damascus by their envoys in Ramallah. The newspaper claimed it has obtained a copy of the correspondence, which includes the details of the agreement and its 10 clauses.
The document's 10 clauses stipulate the Palestinian demands, including the lifting of the closure placed on the Gaza Strip, pulling out the Israel Defense Forces from the area and suspension of all military activity there. The deal also calls for the opening of the Gaza border crossings, a release of Palestinian funds held by Israel, the freeing of jailed ministers, parliament members and local council members, and a cessation of targeted killings.
The agreement concludes with an international guarantee to vouch for the full implementation of all clauses.
The deal also calls for a halt of Qassam rocket attacks at Israel, an end to the suicide bombings in Israel, and an Israeli commitment not to impose diplomatic solutions on the PA.
Diplomatic sources told the newspaper that a senior Arab official spoke on Sunday with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, as well as with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and head of Hamas' politburo, Khaled Mashaal. The sources said that the relationship between Hamas and the PA president have recently improved.
Hamas official Osama al-Mazini also denied the reports. In a phone conversation with a German news agency, al-Mazini said that "there are no news regarding the kidnapped soldier. What has been said on the matter are mere statements to the media, but there are no concrete proposals. There are no negotiations, this is untrue.
Al-Mazini added that the last offer the Palestinians were presented with by the Egyptians was "unsatisfactory."
Ilan Marciano contributed to the report