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Thread: Israel, Hamas Agree to Free Gilad Shalit in Prisoner Swap

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    Miss Mock Out jackalope's Avatar
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    Israel, Hamas Agree to Free Gilad Shalit in Prisoner Swap

    Israel, Hamas Agree to Free Gilad Shalit in Prisoner Swap
    October 12, 2011, 9:10 AM EDT


    Oct. 12 (Bloomberg) -- Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit may be released as early as next week after Israel and Hamas reached agreement to end his five-year captivity in the Gaza Strip in exchange for more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners.Shalit will be handed over to Egyptian officials on Oct. 17, said Abu Ataya, a spokesman for the Popular Resistance Committees in the Gaza Strip, a group said to be involved in the abduction. Israel will bus the first group of freed Palestinians to Egypt and they will then cross into the Gaza Strip, he said.

    “There was a willingness for flexibility on both sides, perhaps from a sense of urgency,” said Jonathan Spyer, a political scientist at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, Israel. “Hamas was very much in need of a boost and this is a return to political visibility.”

    Shalit was seized by Hamas militants in an attack on an Israeli army post on the border with the Gaza Strip in June 2006. Egypt and Germany have been trying for years to broker an exchange in which he would be freed in return for the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails. Negotiations in the past stumbled over how many prisoners who had been involved in violent attacks would be freed and whether they would be allowed to return to the West Bank and Gaza.


    Statehood Bid

    The deal to free Shalit, 25, comes as the U.S. attempts to restart peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who controls the West Bank, has refused to restart talks until Israel halts settlement building and is instead pursuing statehood recognition at the United Nations, a step that is popular in Gaza and the West Bank, and opposed by Israel and the U.S.

    Israel’s Cabinet approved the deal in a 26-3 vote early today. Negotiators hammered out the swap through Egyptian mediation and signed a draft in Cairo, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.
    Mkhaimer Abusada, a political scientist at Gaza’s Al-Azhar University, said Netanyahu’s decision to reach the agreement now will boost Hamas and is a slap to Abbas.
    “I don’t think it is a coincidence that Israel is trying to undermine Abu Mazen,” Abusada said, referring to Abbas by his popular nickname.

    more: Israel, Hamas Agree to Free Gilad Shalit in Prisoner Swap - Businessweek

    His family (Gilad's) must be so relieved. "Free Gilad" has been a rallying cry in Israel for years. I wonder what effect this will have on Palestinian statehood negotiations.

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