Shimon Peres, Israel’s president, has said there has been “progress” in efforts to free Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier captured by Hamas three years ago.
The disclosure by Peres, was made after he met Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s president, in Cairo on Monday.
“There are negotiations between the two sides. I don’t think the negotiations need an addition of words. As we all know, there is progress. I hope it will end positively,” Peres said.
Last week, Israel and Hamas reacted cautiously to reports that a deal might soon be agreed, to swap Shalit for hundreds of Palestinian prisoners.
Al Jazeera’s Zeina Awad, reporting from Tel Aviv, said: “Hamas has said on the record that there has been progress, but they caution against what they see as a media storm over the issue.
“We have spoken to a large number of high-ranking officials within Hamas, and off the record they have said to us that a deal is at its final stages. It’s down to numbers, and it’s down to lists of prisoners that will be exchanged for Shalit.
“We understand from Hamas that the contentious issues are that Hamas wants a comprehensive list that includes Hamas prisoners as well as Fatah prisoners, as well as so-called Israeli-Arabs or Palestinians with Israeli passports, and East Jerusalemites.
“Israel simply does not want this, instead it wants to narrow the list to those from the West Bank and Gaza.”
Intermittent negotiations between Israel and Hamas have been conducted indirectly since Shalit was captured, mainly through Egyptian mediators.
Germany has also been involved in mediating in recent months.
Shalit’s parents met Hagai Hadas, the Israeli official who has been leading the indirect efforts to secure the soldier’s release, at the defence ministry in Tel Aviv on Tuesday.
“It is not the moment to talk,” Noam Shalit, the father, told reporters outside.
Shalit was seized by fighters from Hamas and allied groups during a raid on an Israeli border base in 2006.
In October, Israel freed about 20 Palestinian women prisoners in exchange for a video showing Shalit in captivity.
The video showed Shalit alive and moving – the first proof of his wellbeing since he was captured.
Source: Al Jazeera