The Palestinian Maan news agency reported Thursday that the United States has agreed to sell Egypt several F-16 fighter jets in order to facilitate the release of Israeli-American Ilan Grapel. Israel had opposed similar sales in the past.
Grapel, who was arrested in June on espionage charges, is slated to be released later on Thursday. Israel will release 25 Egyptian prisoners in return.
- High Court rejects Grapel deal petitions
Maan quoted General Sameh Sayf al-Yazal as saying that Washington was instrumental in negotiation the 27-year-old's release, and helped Egypt "get the best possible deal for Grapel's release."
Grapel, who at some point faced charges of espionage, sedition and attempted arson, will be debriefed by defense officials once he arrives in Israel, after which he is expected to fly back to the United States.
The deal was sanctioned by the High Court, which rejected several petitions asking the deal be suspended until further review.
According to several Egyptian websites, the Grapel deal may also pave the way for the release of Ouda Tarabin, an Israeli Bedouin who is currently serving a 15 year sentence in Egypt. Tarabin was convicted of espionage in 2000 by a military court that triad him in absentia.
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