PA official: Deal to free Schalit close

Deputy prisoner affairs minister claims Israel plans to free Hamas MPs as part of agreement.

Gilad Shalit 298 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Gilad Shalit 298 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
"A deal to secure the release of captured IDF soldier Gilad Schalit will be reached soon", PA Deputy Prisoner Affairs Minister Ziad Abu Ein said Tuesday. Ayin told the Palestinian news agency Ma'an that credible sources had informed him that a prisoner swap would likely take place in the near future, in which the Palestinians would release Schalit in exchange for Israel's release of Hamas parliamentarians and Palestinian municipality heads who were arrested after Schalit's capture. "The deal is also expected to include a comprehensive ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinians," added Ayin. "The Palestinians will stop firing rockets from Gaza to Israel, and in exchange, Israel will stop launching attacks and shelling Gaza." According to Ein, the two sides are also expected to reach an agreement on control of the Gaza crossings and on the transfer of fuel and other services to Gaza. "It seems as if the deal will be consolidated very soon," he said. Schalit's parents met with former US president Jimmy Carter on Monday, and told him that there had been no significant progress in the negotiations for their son's release. Carter is expected to meet with Hamas leader Khalid Mashaal, with whom he is expected to discuss a possible prisoner swap deal. "The release of Gilad Schalit will be one of the central topics that will come up in the meeting with Mashaal, and a deal with Hamas for his release is possible," said Carter Sunday.