Yoram Cohen
Yoram Cohen leaving his house in Jerusalem in March 2011. Photo by Emil Salman
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Hamas turned down a request by Shin Bet security service director Yoram Cohen to meet head of the group's military wing during talks in Cairo to negotiate the release of Gilad Shalit, a Hamas official said Sunday.

According to Abu Obeida, spokesperson for Hamas' military wing, Cohen on two different occasions asked Egyptian officials to arrange a meeting with Ahmed Jabari, the head of the group's military wing, with the Hamas delegation refusing the requests.

The Hamas official also indicated that Israeli and Egyptian representatives would meet once a year in order to estimate the status of the 40 prisoners due to be deported overseas.

Abu Obeida said that, according to the deal's terms, some of the deportees will return to the West Bank following several years abroad. He also said that Israel at first demanded that 260 Palestinian prisoners be deported, a number which Hamas narrowed down to the final 40.

The Hamas official also claimed that each and every of those scheduled to be deported has agreed to the move, as well as their respective families. He claimed Hamas was successful in receiving 90% of its demands.

Abu Obeida also referred to the issue of female prisoners that were expected to remain in Israeli jail, with recent reports claiming that Hamas had asked that the remaining women be freed as well.

The Hamas official said there were still unofficial contacts concerning the issue of female prisoners, but, he said, the issue would not serve as an obstacle to the Shalit swap deal, or delay it in any way.