Report: Fatah prisoners to be freed in Shalit deal
Hamas, PA officials continue to express optimism about possibility of finalizing deal securing kidnapped soldier's release in near future. Sources involved in talks say hundreds of Fatah prisoners to be released as well in bid to prevent Palestinian public opinion from shifting towards Hamas
According to the sources, there have been signals in recent days from sources involved in the negotiations that serious progress has been made in the deal aimed at securing the release of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit and that it could be completed by the end of the year.
The sources clarified that the release of Fatah prisoners would be aimed at preventing the public opinion from shifting towards Hamas, which is leading the deal on the Palestinian side.
The Palestinian sources said the chances for such a deal to be completed before the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, which takes place next Friday, were low, despite a Wednesday report by the al-Hurra network.
Palestinian Authority officials could not provide details on the nature of the progress, while Hamas confirmed that progress had been made but refused to elaborate, saying they had promised the German mediator to keep the talks secret.
The east Jerusalem-based al-Manar newspaper continued its optimistic reports, reported that the German mediator between Israel and Hamas has completed his mission and has returned to Cairo to wait for the implementation of the second stage of the deal. This report has not been confirmed by any other source, and its reliability is unclear.
'Shalit to be examined by Israeli doctors'The newspaper quoted "reliable sources" as saying that the German mediator was expected to arrive in Cairo from Israel, where he had held intensive talks for two days in a bid to finalize the deal. Hagai Hadas, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's special representative for Shalit's return is expected to arrive in the Egyptian capital within a few hours, al-Manar reported.
According to the same sources, upon arriving in Israel the German mediator met with Netanyahu. Hadas took part in the meeting as well. The newspaper reported that the prime minister agreed to the implementation of the second stage of the deal, saying that a number of technical procedures would be resolved within the next few days ahead of implementation.
Shalit is expected to be released as part of the second stage of the deal and to be transferred to Egypt, where he will be met by an Israeli medical team in the city of al-Arish. At the same time, more than 450 male and female Palestinian prisoners will be released from Israel's jails.
According to the sources, secret talks are being held in a bid to combine the deal's second and third stages and finalize it once and for all.
The newspaper also reported that the prisoners slated to be released include former Fatah Secretary-General in the West Bank Marwan Barghouti. The Palestinian publication added that three senior Hamas members are in Cairo for secret talks with the German mediator.
Roee Nahmias contributed to this report