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Hamas approves prisoner swap deal proposed by Egypt

Ahram Online , Friday 29 Sep 2017
Yehia Sonwar
Yehia Sonwar (Photo: Ahram arabic Gate)
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Hamas has agreed on an exchange of prisoners with Israel, a deal suggested by Egypt two weeks ago, Palestinian news agency Ma’an reported on Friday.

According to Ma'an, the head of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, Yahia Senwar, said during a meeting with Gazan youth on Thursday that his group' agreement with the deal came in response to Egypt's suggestion, which was offered to the group's delegation in Cairo earlier this month.

However, the Israeli government has reportedly rejected the prisoner swap; Israeli media quoted an Israeli source describing Senwar’s announcement as “a manoeuvre.”

The agreement between Hamas and Egypt over the deal reached Israel through an Israeli official who is charged of negotiations, Ma'an added.

"The ball is now in the Israeli playground; they refused the plan which was approved by Egypt and our side," Senwar said.

Senwar did not reveal the details of the deal, but according to reports by Palestinian newspaper Al-Istiqlal and Israeli newspapers Haaretz and The Times of Israel, it would mean that Israel release 39 bodies of Palestinians who were killed in 2014, including 19 Hamas members, and in return Hamas would give information on the missing Israeli soldiers that the group allegedly holds.

The second phase of the deal would be the release of 58 Palestinians who were rearrested in 2014 after they were released in 2011 in a prisoner swap for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, a group that is known in the Arabic media as "the Shalit captives."

The third and last phase would be the start of negotiations between Hamas and Israel on a further prisone swap, with Egyptian mediation.

Earlier this month, a high-profile Hamas delegation visited Cairo to continue talks that started in February regarding the situation in Gaza and bilateral relations with Egypt.

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