Knesset Member Israel Hasson (Kadima) met with Ilan Grapel
in Egypt on Monday. "It caught him completely by surprise," Hasson said of the dual US-Israeli national who has been held in Egypt for over four months on espionage charges.
The Political-Security cabinet is set to approve a swap deal
which will see 25 Egyptian prisoners go free in exchange for Grapel's release on Tuesday.
Hasson, an ex-Shin Bet man, and cabinet envoy Attorney Yitzhak Molcho visited Cairo several times recently to negotiate a prisoner swap deal with Egypt which was mediated by the US.
Grapel with Hasson (R) and Molcho (L)
On Monday, Hasson and Molcho visited Grapel ahead of his release. Grapel told them he was feeling alright but noted the most difficult thing for him was being isolated.
Grapel did not know the two would be coming to visit him. "We told him we were optimistic about his release. He was glad about it. All in all, he looked perfectly fine," Hasson said.
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.
Among the prisoners to be released are three minors. According to Egypt, the deal includes "clauses which have yet to be published." Israel denied that any security prisoners will be released in response to Egyptian media reports. Nevertheless, the Israeli public will be given 48 hours to file High Court petitions against the deal after the cabinet votes on the matter.
Grapel immigrated to Israel from the US, enlisted in the IDF and was injured in the Second Lebanon War. Egyptians claimed that he encouraged locals to riot during the popular revolution. In the media he was presented as a Mossad agent, but Cairo officials recently admitted he was not a spy.