Speaking to Ynet on Sunday, sources in Hamas and the Palestinian Authority (PA) said Israel has agreed to consider releasing 200 Palestinian prisoners which former Prime Minster Ehud Olmert's government refused to include in any deal that would secure the release of captive IDF soldier Gilad Shalit.
Hamas, for its part, is willing to consider deporting these so-called "heavy" detainees from the West Bank, the sources said.
The Palestinian sources would not directly address Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's reported plan to settle the Shalit affair, rehabilitate Gaza and establish a long-term ceasefire between Israel and the armed Palestinian factions, but did acknowledge the pressure being exerted by Cairo on both sides to reach an agreement.
Among the "heavy" detainees Israel is considering to release are Abbas al-Sayad, who orchestrated the terror attack on Netanya's Park Hotel; Ibrahim Hamed – currently serving a lengthy prison sentence for his involvement in terror attacks which left 82 Israeli dead and hundreds of others wounded; and Abdullah Jamal Barghouti – currently serving 67 consecutive life sentences for explosive manufacturing and his involvement in a series of terror attacks, which left 66 Israelis dead and 500 injured.
"Hamas realizes that the release of more than a 1,000 prisoners would mark a great achievement for the organization, a PA official said, adding that such a development would help Hamas better prepare for possible presidential elections in 2010.
Gilad Shalit was captured by Palestinian terrorists during a cross-border on an IDF base near Gaza on June 25, 2006.