Muhammad Nazal, Hamas media consultant and a member of its political bureau, said that there has been contact between Israel and Egypt regarding the possibility of securing the return of kidnapped IDF soldier, Gilad Shalit, through a prisoner exchange.
The factions that kidnapped the soldier are demanding the release of some thousand Palestinian prisoners, but the final number and the specific identity of those released still needs to be determined, stated Lebanese newspaper al-Nahar, Friday morning, reporting on an interview with Nazal.
According to the media consultant, "Pursuant to the visit of senior Hamas officials to Cairo, Egyptian sources renewed negotiation efforts that had previously been halted due to the stubbornness of the Israelis, who wanted to secure the soldier's release in exchange for nothing."
"During our visit, it was agreed that continued negotiation attempts would be based on the idea of a prisoner exchange, to which Israel has agreed theoretically, despite the fact that the names and final numbers of Palestinian prisoners to be release still needs to be discussed," Nazal said.
In the interview, Nazal was asked if the subject of prisoner exchange is coordinate between Hamas and the Hizbullah leadership in Lebanon. He answered in the negative. "There is no coordination with Hizbullah and the current trend is to separate between the two channels," he elaborated.
"There is a mutual agreement between Hamas and Hizbullah leadership on this point, due to the different conditions of the two situations. It is clear that the top priority in Lebanon is an end to the aggression and, as such, they can't currently discuss prisoner exchanges," Nazal explained.
Al-Nahar's article came out on the heels of an interview published in the London-based al-Sharq al Wasat newspaper on Wednesday, in which a senior Palestinian source claimed that Israel had expressed willingness to release Palestinian women and underage prisoners, in exchange for Cpl. Shalit.
The source further claimed that the Palestinian factions holding Shalit were also demanding that Israel release all Palestinian prisoners serving long-term sentences and that Israel rejected this demand. Palestinian sources added that negotiations of prisoner exchange would be renewed following a cessation of IDF attacks in Gaza.