Israel, Egypt Discuss New Proposal for Prisoner Exchange Deal With Hamas

Chaim Levinson
Chaim Levinson
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Prime Minister Naftali Bennet and Egyptian Intelligence MInster Abbas Kamal in Jerusalem, in August.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennet and Egyptian Intelligence MInster Abbas Kamal in Jerusalem, in August.Credit: Kobi Gideon/GPO
Chaim Levinson
Chaim Levinson

Israel and Egypt are in talks over a new proposal for a prisoner exchange deal between Israel and Hamas, which could see to Israeli civilians and the bodies of two Israeli soldiers returned from the Gaza Strip.

Israeli and Egyptian officials are working on drafting an agreement, which includes new solutions for issues Israel is concerned by. Hamas representatives are also part of the intensive talks between the parties.

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The details of the outline have been placed under a gag order, and the proposal has not yet been approved by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett or discussed by Israel's security cabinet.

First Lieutenant Hadar Goldin (right) and Staff Sergeant Oron Shaul.

This week, National Security Council chief Eyal Hulata and Shin Bet chief Ronen Bar met with Egyptian Intelligence Minister Abbas Kamal. In August, Kamal met with Bennett and Defense Minister Benny Gantz in Jerusalem.

Avera Mengistu.Credit: Courtesy of the Mengistu family

Israel assesses that Cairo wishes to advance the deal in order to get Hamas and Israel back to the negotiating table regarding an overall deal on Gaza.

Hisham al-Sayed.

In February, Saudi-owned network Al Arabiya reported that Israel asked Egypt to assist in promoting a prisoner swap deal with Hamas.

Hamas currently has two Israeli citizens imprisoned who crossed the border to the Gaza Strip, Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed, as well as the bodies of fallen soldiers 1st Lieutenant Hadar Goldin and Staff Sergeant Oron Shaul who were killed in the military operation of summer 2014.

In September, the Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar reported that Hamas presented two offers to Israel regarding a prisoner swap deal. The first offer would have Hamas release the Israeli prisoners in exchange for the release of all prisoners freed in the Gilad Shalit deal who were afterwards imprisoned again, as well as all women and minors held by Israel.

The second offer included two phases: First, in exchange for information regarding the Israeli prisoners, Israel would be required to release women, children, and some of the prisoners formerly released in the Shalit deal. The second phase would have Israel release thousands of Palestinian prisoners in exchange the Israeli prisoners.

In April, Hamas reported that the organization had delivered a proposal for a prisoner swap deal to Israel through intermediaries, but said that Israel did not treat the offer seriously.

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