'Gov't may free 20 killers in exchange for Gilad Schalit'

Report cites "significant process" in negotiations; Aviva Schalit: It seems the price of Gilad's freedom is too expensive for Israel.

By JPOST.COM STAFF
May 21, 2011 20:38
2 minute read.
Captured soldier Gilad Schalit in video

Gilad Schalit in video 311 (R). (photo credit: Reuters)

A prisoner swap for Gilad Schalit may be closer than ever, several Israeli media outlets reported Saturday.

According to a report in the Arabic-language London-based newspaper Al-Quds Al-Arabi, Israel has agreed to release 20 Palestinian murderers with blood on their hands as part of a prisoner exchange for the captive soldier. As part of the potential agreement, the released prisoners would not be allowed to remain in the Palestinian territories after their release.

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No deal has yet been signed, but the report stressed that negotiations were in final stages.

According to the report, Turkey, Egypt and Germany were privy to these most recent negotiations.

Speaking at a special ceremony outside the prime minister's residence in Jerusalem for Lag Ba'Omer on Saturday, Aviva Schalit criticized the government, suggesting that like everything else in Israel, the price for her son is too high.

"Israel, it seems, has changed, my Gilad," captive soldier Gilad Schalit's mother said. "It's not the same country that we had once. Today there is a price for everything, also for you, you're too expensive."



She added, "We're waiting for your price to drop. I try to explain that if we wait for "end of the season," maybe it won't be [so expensive], like what happened to Ron Arad."

Speaking directly to her son who has been in Hamas captivity in the Gaza Strip for nearly five years, Aviv said, "I promise you, my son: We won't stop, and we'll shout and do everything until they bring you home."

"When you return," she added, "after our great burden, and after we hug you, [your] father and I and all of the family, we'll try again to live normal lives and to believe that the State of Israel is still our country, in whose name your uncle died for."

 On Friday, Palestinian sources told Chinese news agency Xinhua that Egypt and Turkey are sponsoring indirect negotiations between Hamas and Israel on the release of captive IDF soldier Gilad Schalit. Germany's role was not mentioned.

The negotiations are still in the early stages and it is "still too early to talk about a breakthrough," the sources told the Chinese news agency.

On Thursday, Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal said Egypt is making vigorous moves to advance a prisoner exchange deal that would see Schalit released.

"Schalit's release depends on the Israeli position," Mashaal said. "The ball is now in [Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu's court," saying Netanyahu is responsible for the lack of progress in the deal.

Also on Thursday, the US added The Army of Islam, one of the organizations responsible for the capture of Schalit, to its list of terror organizations.

The State Department said that the Gaza-based terrorist group recently announced its intentions to cooperate with al-Qaida, and that its members were responsible for attacks on Egyptians.


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