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Prisoner-swap deal by the end of the year?

An Egyptian specialist in Palestinian affairs has said that the last few days of 2009 will be crucial in determining the fate of the prisoner swap deal between the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas), and Israel. Pointing to the fundamental obstacles he described as “formidable”, Ibrahim Al-Aladrawi said that they are preventing the announcement of an agreement on a deal.


In his comments to Quds Press, Mr. Al- Aladrawi said, “There is a basic lack of trust between the two parties to the negotiations, which is at the top of the list of obstacles.” There are no guarantees that all of the prisoners Hamas wants will be released and there is a debate within the Israeli government on what Israel could offer Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas – no friend of Hamas – if it agrees to release around 1500 prisoners in exchange for Sergeant Gilad Shalit, the French citizen Israeli soldier captured by Hamas three years ago. An offer for President Abbas would act as a counter-weight to the benefit accorded to Hamas by any successful prisoner deal, as negotiations continue in the bid to reach a deal on a two-state solution and Abbas remains the Israeli’s preferred option.

According to Mr. Al-Aladrawi, the position of Marwan Barghouti, Ahmad Saadat and three Jerusalemites has still not been agreed upon by the Israelis and Hamas. He added, “The status of eight detainees is an important issue in the discussions: five Hamas detainees, three Jerusalemites, as well as Marwan Barghouti and Ahmad Saadat. However, it is very clear that the German mediators meant what they said when they threatened to withdraw from the role if an acceptable agreement cannot be reached.” It looks, though, that matters are moving in the right direction and an announcement about a solution which is face-saving for both sides could be made before the year end.  

Despite this effort for a face-saving agreement, Ibrahim Al-Aladrawi believes that the Israeli government and PA President Abbas will be seen as the losers in any deal. “I think the winners will be the Palestinian prisoners, Shalit’s family and Hamas,” he said. “It’s not difficult to see who the losers will be.”

Source: Quds Press Service

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