Prisoner Swap: "No progress, Hamas refuses to adopt realistic approach"
Arab channels allege progress in Israel-Hamas indirect negotiations regarding release of Israelis held captive. Israeli negotiator: “Despite our attempts, there is no real progress on the issue.”
By JERUSALEM POST STAFF
According to reports by Arab state news networks, there has been progress on the issue of Israeli citizens being held by the Hamas terrorist in Gaza, despite Israeli claims to the contrary.Israeli lead negotiator Yaron Blum denied the claims, saying that “despite our attempts, there is no real progress on the issue.” Indirect negotiations have been ongoing between Israel and Hamas, in a bid to retrieve the bodies of Lieutenant Hadar Goldin and Sergeant Oron Shaul, who fell during Operation Protective Edge in 2014, in addition to two Israeli civilians that are being held in the Gaza Strip, Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed.The report came from “Independent Arab” news, claiming that Israeli and Hamas officials were visiting Cairo for a few days in an attempt to reach a breakthrough on the issues of captives and missing persons in the Gaza Strip. A senior source told the newspaper that “progress has been made in recent days between the parties discussing the recovery of the bodies of two Israelis in exchange for an indefinite number of Palestinian bodies held in Israel and a package of facilities for the Gaza Strip.”The source added: "In addition, Hamas' proposal to release 50 Palestinian prisoners is being considered, in exchange for the release of the two Israelis held in Gaza (Avera Mengistu and Hisham a-Sayed)." The source claims that "there seems to be an Israeli tendency to agree to release half of the number Hamas is requesting."The source emphasized that "progress may be due to Netanyahu's desire to obtain an agreement to return the prisoners before Benny Gantz succeeds in forming a government or before a third election campaign." The source also noted that "the two delegations are in the same hotel in Cairo, with the Egyptian security service mediating between the delegations and passing their proposals between them."The bodies of Goldin and Shaul have been held in the Hamas-controlled enclave for over five years. The Israeli citizens who are currently being held are those who crossed the perimeter fence around the Gaza Strip five years ago. Both Israelis suffer from mental health problems.