Syria, Qatar, Turkey Said Willing to Take Prisoners Deported in Shalit Deal

Hamas official tells Al-Hayat three countries willing to absorb the 40 Palestinian prisoners whose release Israel has conditioned on deportation.

Hamas' deputy leader Moussa Abu Marzouk said Monday that three countries have agreed to absorb the Palestinian prisoners who are to be deported after their release as part of the prisoner exchange for abducted Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit, according to a report in London-based Arab daily Al-Hayat.

Abu Marzouk specifically named Qatar and Turkey as countries willing to take in the prisoners, while Al-Hayat reported that Syria was the third unnamed state on the list.

Hamas official Moussa Abu Marzouk Dec. 29, 2008 (AP)

Abu Marzouk and Hamas political leader Khaled Meshal are expected in Egypt later Monday, to welcome the 40 prisoners whose release Israel has conditioned upon deportation from the Palestinian territories.

The spokesman of Hamas' military wing, Abu Obadiah, said Sunday that Israel and Egypt would meet once a year to review the status of the deported prisoners.

Abu Obadiah also downplayed claims that Hamas had been overly flexible in the deal, saying that the Islamic movement had achieved 90 percent of its demands.He added that Israel had initially said 260 prisoners would have to be deported as part of the deal. He also said that each of the prisoners set for deportation, as well as their families, had agreed to the move.

An Israeli defense official said Sunday that the sides have finalized all of the arrangements to transfer Shalit from Hamas hands to Israeli authorities through Egypt. The exchange is expected to take place on Tuesday.

The Israeli defense official spoke hours after special Israeli envoy David Meidan returned from Cairo after meeting with senior Egyptian intelligence officials to tie up the loose ends still remaining in the deal, which will see Shalit released after five years in Hamas captivity, in exchange for more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners.

Israel's High Court of Justice on Monday will hear four petitions against the deal, though sources have said it is likely that they will be rejected.

Shalit's parents urged the court to reject the petitions quickly, warning that any hitch at this time could easily upset the deal. "Nobody knows what the impact of any delay, or any change, even the smallest, in the terms would be," they wrote in a request to be added to the cases as parties defending the deal.