Gilad Shalit cardboard figures
Cardboard figures of captive IDF soldier Gilad Shalit. Photo by Tess Scheflan
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German mediator Gerhard Conrad landed in Cairo Monday for a clandestine visit of several days, during which he is slated to meet with several Egyptian officials in an attempt to restart talks regarding a prisoner exchange between Israel and Hamas, which would free captive IDF soldier Gilad Shalit in exchange for hundreds of Palestinian prisoners, according to a German news agency.

Egyptian sources claim that Hamas leaders are scheduled to arrive in Cairo in the next days in order to advance Palestinians reconciliation talks. There is a high possibility that they will also take advantage of the opportunity and attempt to advance a prisoner exchange.

The developments come on the heels of a report last month in the Arab daily newspaper, Al-Hayat, on the progress of talks in light of Israeli flexibility regarding the number of prisoners it is demands to expel in order to secure Shalit's release. Moreover, prisoners reportedly have information according to which Israel will no longer veto the release of Israeli Arab and Jerusalem Palestinian security prisoners, a move which may advance negotiations.

However, Hamas has expressed reservations regarding Conrad, claiming that he supports the Israeli position, and demanding that Egyptian mediators must remain in the picture.