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Hamas presents 'clear roadmap' for prisoner swap with Israel

Hamas militants stand guard in Gaza City as an Israeli-Palestinian prisoner swap deal gets under way on October 15th 2015 [Naaman Omar/Apaimages]
Hamas militants stand guard in Gaza City as an Israeli-Palestinian prisoner swap deal gets under way on 15 November 2016 [Naaman Omar/Apaimages]

The Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement has presented a "clear roadmap" for a prisoner swap with the Israeli occupation authorities, Hamas Political Bureau member Zaher Jabareen said on Monday. He stressed that the "ball is now in the Israeli court."

The Hamas leadership and the movement's military wing, said Jabareen, pay special attention to the prisoners' file, especially those who are serving long sentences. He noted that Israel has been trying to link the reconstruction of Gaza with the Israeli soldiers held in the besieged enclave.

"Hamas and the resistance leadership reject such a link. The movement has told all of the mediators that it is impossible to link the two issues. Moreover, the intentions of the Israeli occupation authorities are not clear."

Sometimes, he pointed out, it feels as if the occupation takes two steps forward and three steps back. "It wants information about its soldiers but isn't prepared to pay any price for it."

READ: In Egypt, Israel discusses Hamas prisoner swap deal

The release of prisoners re-arrested and imprisoned after being released in the 2011 prisoner swap is a precondition for any new deal, said Jabareen. He told the New Arab that the conditions for a swap "get more difficult through time". He said that Hamas has added to the freedom list the six prisoners who escaped from Gilboa Prison only to be recaptured recently.

According to Arab48.com, Egyptian sources have revealed that the issue of the prisoner swap was highlighted during the recent meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Egypt's President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi. They reported the Israelis saying that prisoners will not be released if they have "blood on their hands". To this Hamas responded, "Two Israeli soldiers were captured during a military offensive against Gaza and they have killed Palestinians. Can we insist on not releasing them?"

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