The London-based Asharq Alawsat reported Saturday significant progress in negotiations to release captive IDF soldier Gilad Schalit, held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip for over three years. According to the report, Israel and Hamas reached a compromise according to which Israel would eventually release 1,100 Palestinian prisoners, of which 400 would be picked by Hamas. Hamas ministers and parliamentarians would also be released, according to the reported agreement. Israel would also remove the siege of the Gaza Strip, open the southern Rafah Crossing and return it to the level of operation that existed before the Hamas coup two years ago. The paper reported that the plan received the blessing of the United States. Israeli and Palestinian sources both doubted the veracity of Asharq Alawsat's report, and The Jerusalem Post could not verify its reliability.