Hamas political chief Khaled Meshal is due to arrive in Cairo to begin a third round of indirect talks with Israel over a prisoner swap deal for the release of abducted Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit, the London-based Arabiv daily Al-Hayat reported Tuesday.
The report quoted Palestinian sources saying that the Israeli negotiators are showing willingness to compromise, especially over issues such as releasing jailed Israeli Arabs and East Jerusalem residents. Sources also said an agreement has been reached over the number of prisoners who would be deported from the West Bank after their release.
Hamas senior official Osama Hamdan told Al-Hayat, however, that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is still unwilling to pay the full price needed to complete the agreement.
The differences between Israel and Hamas revolve primarily around the number of prisoners Israel wants to deport (apparently about half of the 450 prisoners Hamas is demanding be released) and the release of high-profile prisoners such as Marwan Barghouti.
The first round of talks apparently took place last week, Al-Hayat reported on Monday. Hamas military chief Ahmed al-Ja'abari was said to be representing the Hamas side in the negotiations, while David Meidan, the new Israeli negotiator in Shalit swap talks, was reportedly representing the Israeli negotiating team. Egyptian intelligence officials have been mediating between the two parties.
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