shalit, gilad, 298 ap.
(photo credit: AP)
Israel has shown a willingness to free a "larger than expected" number of Palestinian prisoners in return for the release of Cpl. Gilad Shalit abducted by Hamas, President Hosni Mubarak said, according to a state news agency Monday.
Mubarak said "the features of an agreement... have not been finished yet," but that Egypt's attempt to broker a deal was continuing.
Noam Shalit speaks to Arab media
Senior Israeli defense officials involved in the negotiations revealed Monday that Shalit was expected to be released within the next two weeks.
On Monday, two representatives of Egyptian Intelligence stationed in the Gaza Strip - Muhammad Ibrahim and Rafat Shihada - met in Tel Aviv with former deputy head of the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) Ofer Dekel, appointed by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to coordinate efforts to retrieve Shalit as well as Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, kidnapped in July by Hizbullah.
The deal, Mubarak said, would include a two-stage prisoner swap under which Shalit would be returned to Israel in exchange for jailed Palestinian women and minors. At a later date, Israel would release an additional yet-to-be-decided number of male Palestinian security prisoners.
Ibrahim and Shihada, who are said to be in direct contact with Shalit's Hamas kidnappers, have told Israeli officials that the deal could be finalized within the next two weeks. Initial expectations that Shalit would be returned home by Rosh Hashana this Friday were premature, an official close to the talks said Monday.
AP contributed to the report.