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Netanyahu says Israel is ready to talk about prisoner swap

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem on 14 April, 2019 [RONEN ZVULUN/AFP/Getty Images]
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem on 14 April, 2019 [RONEN ZVULUN/AFP/Getty Images]

Benjamin Netanyahu issued a call through his office on Tuesday for the immediate initiation of talks through mediators to conclude a prisoner swap with Hamas in order to recover “the war dead and missing soldiers” and be able to bring this matte to a close.

“The government coordinator for prisoners and missing persons, Yaron Blum, and his team, in cooperation with the security services, are ready to work constructively so as to recover the war dead and missing soldiers and close this file,” explained the Prime Minister.

Netanyahu’s remarks come after the leader of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, Yahya Sinwar, said last Thursday that there is a “possibility of making progress” in the prisoners’ exchange file if Israel engages in a humanitarian approach rather than a swap process. “If Israel releases the Palestinian detainees, including the sick, the women and the elderly, from its prisons, we can offer a partial concession,” said Sinwar. “However, a prisoner exchange deal requires a significant price that the occupation must pay.”

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The Hamas leader added that, “The leadership of Al-Qassam Brigades [the military wing of Hamas] is following the spread of Covid-19 inside Israel’s prisons with great concern.”

Earlier this week, Israeli Defence Minister Naftali Bennett set conditions for delivering humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip, linking the provision of relief with making further progress in the prisoner exchange file. Sinwar responded by threatening action against Israel if that is the case.

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