Hamas Says Israel Is Not Serious About Prisoner Exchange Deal

Hamas reportedly gave Israel a list of Palestinian prisoners to release in the first phase of negotiations

Jack Khoury
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Hamas Chief Ismail Haniyeh attends a meeting with members of international media at his office in Gaza City June 20, 2019
Hamas Chief Ismail Haniyeh attends a meeting with members of international media at his office in Gaza City June 20, 2019Credit: Mohammed Salem / REUTERS
Jack Khoury

The head of Hamas' political office, Musa Dudin, said Friday that Hamas relayed a framework for a prisoner exchange to Israel through mediators, yet he said that Israel did not take the step seriously.

Dudin's comments came in response to reports that Hamas gave Israel a list of Palestinian prisoners to be released in exchange for information on Israelis held in Gaza.

Dudin told the Hamas-run newspaper Al-Rai that if Israel agrees to release elderly and sick prisoners in addition to female prisoners, then Hamas is willing to begin the process of negotiations. "We want to be transparent with our public," said Dudin. "As of now Israel is not serious about the deal."

He added that the current initiative does not contradict the terms of a complete deal to release Palestinian prisoners in exchange for two Israeli civilians and the remains of two Israeli soldiers killed in Gaza in 2014.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said Friday that Hamas is willing to negotiate with Israel directly and without mediators. "We demanded a release of the elderly, sick and minors as well as those released in the Shalit deal," he said, referring to at least 60 prisoners released in exchange for soldier Israel soldier Gilad Shalit that Israel then rearrested in the following years. "If Israel's leaders are serious, we will be ready to do so in order to free our prisoners," he said. 

Hamas signaled to Israel this month that it would be willing to hold talks on the matter, in light of the coronavirus crisis, calling for the release of Palestinian prisoners held in Israel with an emphasis on the sick, elderly, women and minors.

Over the past few years, several reported attempts to negotiate a prisoner swap deal between Israel and the Palestinians have failed. 

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