Former Egyptian Ambassador to Israel Muhammad Basyuni claimed Thursday that a deal for kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit would be announced "within hours".
He gave no source of information for his claim, and the Prime Minister's Office responded immediately by stating that "no breakthrough" had been made in continuing talks for Shalit's release.
"In the next few hours an official agreement to swap Israeli and Palestinian prisoners will be announced, releasing Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who is being held in Gaza pending the release of a thousand Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails," Basyuni told the Egyptian daily Al-Masryoon, identified with the Muslim Brotherhood.
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"The time has become ripe for reaching an agreement on this deal, especially after the signing of the Palestinian reconciliation, which Israel hoped would not be achieved," he said.
On Wednesday senior Defense Ministry official Amos Gilad left for Egypt to discuss, according to sources, the Shalit deal among other things.
Basyuni said Gilad "brought with him Israel's agreement to release all prisoners demanded by the Palestinians". Jerusalem had no comment on Gilad's current mission.
Asked to respond, the campaign for Gilad Shalit stated that it had no information on an upcoming deal and that the former envoy's claim seems "unsubstantiated".
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