Is Israel ready for prisoner exchange? The London-based al-Hayat newspaper reported Friday morning that Israel was willing to release prisoners from it jails in exchange for abducted IDF soldier Gilad Shalit.
Al-Hayat reported that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Shin Bet head Yuval Diskin met in Jordan, where Diskin promised to release large number of Palestinian prisoners, including prisoners "with blood on their hands," directly responsible for Israeli deaths.
Following the meeting, Abbas promised Hamas that "a large number of prisoners" would be released from Israeli jails.
Palestinian sources told al-Hayat that during the Jordan meeting that Diskin said the release of Palestinian prisoners would take place after a summit meeting between Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
Diskin also insisted that Israel would not negotiate directly with the Hamas-led government.
The report specified that the release would include prisoners who served over 20 years in Israeli jails - prisoners that Israel refused to release during previous prisoners' exchange deals.
The prisoner release is one of the basic conditions that Hamas has set in order to solve the abduction crisis. Egyptian President Hosni Mobarak had attempted to resolve the crisis with similiar promises, but with no success thus far.
Hamas now faces two less-than-perfect options: Releasing Shalit using Abbas' agreement, while betraying its allies Syria and Lebanon, or refusing the deal and facing further war which may risk its leaders and possibly depose the government.
Hamas sources estimated that Diskin's proposal would most likely be rejected, not only because of the situation in Lebanon but also because Hamas was not directly involved in negotiating the deal.
However, Hamas also understands that the alternative is continued fighting and the potential elimination of its leaders in the Gaza Strip.