The Prime Minister's Office announced on Monday that the cabinet is set to vote on the Grapel prisoner exchange, which will see 27-year-old Ilan Grapel
returned to Israel
after over four months in Egyptian custody.
Grapel was arrested by Cairo in June and was charges with espionage, sedition and the attempted arson of an Egyptian government building.
According to the Prime Minister's Office, the United States helped secure the swap, by which Grapel will be freed in exchange for the release of 25 Egyptian detainees, including three minors.
A PMO statement said that joint efforts by Israel and Egypt,
facilitated by the United States, led to the deal. Jerusalem sources stressed that unlike the Shalit deal, the detainees in question were not security prisoners.
The deal is still pending the approval of the National Security Cabinet.
Nothing official yet. Ilan Grapel (Screenshot)
Egyptian officials confirmed the agreement and a source in Cairo said the swap may take place this week. An Israeli official involved in the talks said that the swap was expected to occur on Thursday, once Israeli ministers give the go-ahead.
"In the framework of efforts by Israel and Egypt and with the help of the United States, Egypt has agreed to release Ilan Grapel. By Egyptian request Israel has agreed to free 25 Egyptian prisoners," the official said.
Over the weekend, the Egyptian daily Al Youm al Sabea quoted Egyptian Ambassador to Israel Yasser Reda as saying that Israel had relayed a list of 81 prisoners slated to be released in the deal; adding that Cairo was "pleased" with the names included with the deal.
Eelier in October, a top Egyptian source told the London-based Arabic-language newspaper Al-Hayat that Cairo authorities no longer believed Grapel was an Israeli spy.
Grapel's family expressed hope that the deal would go through: "It seems close. But we've had some ups and down," Ilan's father, Daniel Grapel told Ynet.
"I hope it's true and that my son will be released soon. No one has told us anything official. I hear things like you, through the news. I hope it's true and that it happens soon."
Grapel senior said it is likely the family will be notified "only after Ilan is free. We know that there were talks, but we don’t know any of the specifics."
Father and son have been speaking on a regular basis since the arrest. The calls have been facilitated by the US consol to Egypt. "He or one of his aides would meet with Ilan every two weeks and we would talk for about five minutes," he told Ynet.
The calls, he added, were monitored buy the Egyptian authorities, "But I know that overall he's doing okay."
The family "is relieved to hear that this all might end, but we've had our ups and downs. This time it sounds more serious, but nothing is official yet. We really hope it becomes official soon."
Reuters contributed to this report