Two French attorneys hired by the family of Cpl. Gilad Shalit are expected to visit Gaza this weekend in an attempt to meet with the Israeli soldier's kidnappers, AFP reported on Sunday.
Emmanuel Altit and Stephane Zerbib told a press conference in Paris that they were invited by a senior Hamas member to visit the Strip and meet with the kidnappers.
Shalit, who holds duel Israeli and French citizenship, has been held captive in Gaza since being abducted by Hamas terrorists in a cross-border raid on June 25, 2006. A ministerial committee headed by Vice Premier Haim Ramon recently recommended that the government ease the criteria for the release of Palestinian prisoners in order to speed up the soldier's release.
Last week a senior Hamas member told Ynet that there was no breakthrough in the negotiations on a possible prisoner exchange deal.
"The Palestinians are waiting for confirmation on the identity of the prisoners slated for release and for guarantees that Israel will live up to its end of the exchange deal," he said, adding that the second phase of the agreement is set to commence while Shalit will already be making his way to Egypt.
During the earlier stages of the talks the Palestinians demanded that 450 prisoners be released after Shalit is handed over to Egyptian authorities, but Israel rejected the demand and refused to include prisoners with "blood on their hands" on the list of those slated for release.