'Hamas, Nasrallah discuss Schalit swap'

Al-Hayat Barghou

A Hamas delegation met Hizbullah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah in Lebanon on Wednesday, and according to various reports, the two sides discussed the possible swap deal with Israel for the release of captured IDF soldier Gilad Schalit. Senior Hamas official Muhammad Nasser led the delegation, and he was joined by the group's Lebanon-based officials Osama Hamdan, Munir Sayid and a member of the movement's political bureau Hassan Hadraj. Also Wednesday, Gilad's parents Aviva and Noam Schalit, met with Interior Minister Eli Yishai on as part of an ongoing effort to garner support for a prisoner exchange deal with Hamas. After the meeting, Yishai said, "At this point, all discussion on the price and the details of the deal is causing serious of damage. "There will be a public debate, but it shouldn't be now," he added. Meanwhile, Al-Hayat reported that jailed Tanzim and Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti may be released as part of such a prisoner exchange deal. If as a condition for his release, Israel insists on banning Barghouti from returning to the West Bank, he himself will decide whether or not to agree to the deal, the London-based paper reported. Barghouti is serving multiple life sentences in Israel. The paper also cited an Egyptian source close to the Schalit negotiations as saying that Israel agreed to discuss Barghouti's release and deportation. Along with Barghouti, Israel may agree to release prisoners from east Jerusalem and also to reduce the number of prisoners from the West Bank and Gaza who would be deported, according to the report. On Tuesday, the paper quoted Israeli sources as saying that 17 prisoners from east Jerusalem would be freed in a potential deal to release Schalit, while ten of the 17 would be deported. In related news, the Lebanese newspaper Al- Akhbar reported that Hamas feared Israel might try to rescue Schalit through a military maneuver as he was being moved for transfer, without releasing any prisoners in exchange. Therefore, said the paper, a delegation from the Egyptian intelligence and foreign services would enter Gaza and receive Schalit from his captors. With Schalit in hand, the delegation would return to Egypt, Al- Akhbar claimed. The source quoted in the report also said that for fear of an Israeli operation, the location where Schalit would be handed over to the Egyptians had not yet been decided upon. Tuesday's Al-Hayat report also quoted Hamas sources as saying that negotiations to secure a deal were stuck on fifty prisoners that Israel was refusing to release.