Hamas Reportedly Agrees to Egypt's New Plan for Prisoner Swap With Israel

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Yahya Sinwar (center), Hamas chief in Gaza, attends a meeting with Hamas youth in Gaza City, September 28, 2017.
Yahya Sinwar (center), Hamas chief in Gaza, attends a meeting with Hamas youth in Gaza City, September 28, 2017.Credit: MOHAMMED ABED/AFP

The leader of Hamas in Gaza said on Thursday that the organization has agreed to a framework for prisoner exchanges between Hamas and Israel proposed by Egypt two weeks ago. Israeli political sources told Haaretz Friday morning that Yahya Sinwar's reported remarks constitute "a cynical attempt by Hamas to create manipulation, to say the least."

The proposal was submitted to the Hamas delegation, led by Ismail Haniyya, during its recent visit to Cairo and was conveyed to the Israeli side through an Israeli negotiator, Lior Lotan, but Israel rejected the proposal. 

"Hamas and the Egyptians have agreed to the proposal. The ball is now in Israel's court," Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar said.

According to a report by the Ma'an news agency, Yahya made the statements during a meeting with Palestinian youths in Gaza. Sites affiliated with Hamas have not confirmed the report.

Sinwar did not elaborate on the contents of Egypt's proposal and claimed that Lotan resigned due to internal disagreements. 

Two weeks ago, Palestinian newspaper Al-Quds first reported on the new framework, in which Israel would transfer 39 bodies it is holding, including the bodies of 19 Hamas operatives killed in the last round of conflict. 

In exchange, Hamas would provide information on the fate of the missing Israeli civilians and the bodies of Israeli soldiers. Then, the Palestinian prisoners who were re-arrested would be freed and indirect negotiations would begin, negotiated by Egyptian intelligence. 

In the past, Israel has proposed returning the tens of Palestinian citizens who crossed into Israel on their own volition, in exchange for Israeli civilians Abera Mengistu and Hisham Abu-Sayid who are currently held in Gaza. Another suggestion was to return 19 Hamas member's bodies in exchange for the bodies of Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul. Both of these proposals were rejected by Hamas. 

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