Shalit. New hope?
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is mulling the possibility of releasing Palestinian security prisoners "with blood on their hands" in an attempt to bring to the release of kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.
The Prime Minister's Office refused to comment on the report.
Olmert met Sunday with five of his ministers in order to discuss the matter. Vice Premier Haim Ramon, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Minister Ami Ayalon, Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter and Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann attended the meeting.
In the earlier stages of the negotiations on Shalit's release, the Palestinians demanded that Israel frees 450 prisoners – 350 in the initial stage, and another 100 following the exchange. Israel rejected the demand, and said it would refuse to free prisoners with blood on their hands, namely those who have been involved in the killing of Israeli citizens.
The failure of both sides to agree on a formula, coupled with the escalation in Gaza, brought the talks over Shalit to a stalemate, but negotiations were revived a month ago, following a meeting between Olmert and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
On Wednesday, Defense Minister Ehud Barak is scheduled to meet Mubarak and Egypt's Intelligence Chief Omar Suleiman in Sharm el-Sheikh to discuss a series of security issues, including Shalit.
Olmert's meeting with the ministers Sunday was apparently aimed at formulating a new Israeli stance on further compromises that could facilitate a breakthrough in the talks, although the ministers' forum was not authorized to make changes in policy.