Hamas is putting together a delegation to negotiate for the release of prisoners in Israeli jails in exchange for returning the bodies of IDF soldiers Staff Sergeant Oron Shaul and 2nd Lt. Hadar Goldin to Israel, according to the London-based Arabic language Rai el-Youm newspaper. According to the report, the new negotiation team will include high-ranking political and military figures in Hamas that took part in the negotiations for Gilad Schalit. The names of the figures who will participate were not yet published.
An official also said that Hamas is preparing a plan that will take into consideration Israel's demands. Furthermore, the official said that negotiations are expected to take a long time. Hamas said on Thursday that it would provide information about the two missing Israelis in the Gaza Strip only if Palestinians who were rearrested after being released in the Schalit prisoner swap were freed.“If Israel makes a gesture of goodwill and releases those arrested again after they were released in the Schalit deal, Hamas would also make a gesture of goodwill,” and would reveal details on possible prisoners it holds captive, Sheikh Hassan Yousef, a senior Hamas official in the West Bank, told Israel Radio. On November 3, the Knesset passed a law to prevent some murderers from being released in diplomatic negotiations. The legislation proposed by MKs Ayelet Shaked (Bayit Yehudi) and David Tzur (Hatnua) added another level of punishment beyond life in prison, which judges can choose in rulings on especially harsh murder cases, like terrorist attacks or murder of children. In such a case, the murderer would never be able to be released as part of diplomatic negotiations and cannot be let out on parole until having served at least a 40-year sentence. However, the law does not apply to current prisoners; rather, it can be used in future court rulings. Khaled Abu Toameh and Lahav Harkov contributed to this report.
Security analyst Yossi Melman discusses missing Israelis in Gaza