Fatah militant 311.
(photo credit: Reuters)
Israel will release 550 Fatah prisoners as part of the deal with Hamas to secure the freedom of kidnapped soldier Gilad Schalit, AFP reported on Friday, citing an Egyptian diplomat.
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A total of 1,027 Palestinian prisoners will be released in the deal, in two stages. In the first stage, 450 prisoners will be released. Schalit will then be sent to Israel, and another 550 prisoners will be released two months later.
AFP quoted the diplomat as saying Egypt persuaded Israel that the second batch of prisoners to be released in two months time will all be from Fatah.
The diplomat also downplayed the importance of Germany's role
in the negotiations, saying "the German role had failed and ended some
months ago." He added that Egypt alone had mediated the prisoner
Israel will on Saturday night publish the names of the first batch of
prisoners to be released in exchange for Schalit, making his return home
possible as early as Tuesday, officials in the Prime Minister’s Office said on Thursday
David Meidan, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s pointman on the
Schalit affair, is expected to travel to Cairo on Saturday night to work
out the final details of the deal approved by the cabinet earlier this
Netanyahu on Thursday evening spoke by phone
with Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, head of Egypt’s ruling
military council, and thanked him for the central role his country
played in putting together the deal.
“Your assistance warmed the hearts of every Israel citizen,” the prime
minister said, according to a statement put out by his office.Herb Keinon contributed to this report.