Al-Hayat: Schalit deal before Sept. primaries

Report cites Egyptian sources as saying exchange with Hamas will happen before Olmert leaves office.

Gilad Schalit 248.88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Gilad Schalit 248.88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The prisoner swap deal for the release of IDF Cpl. Gilad Schalit will take place before Prime Minister Ehud Olmert leaves office, Egyptian sources told the London-based newspaper Al-Hayat in a report published on Thursday. Further, the report cited Egyptian ambassador to Israel Muhammad Bassiouni as saying that Ofer Dekel, the chief Israeli negotiator on the prisoner exchange issue, told his Egyptian counterpart Omar Suleiman that Israel was willing to release jailed Tanzim chief Marwan Barghouti as part of the deal, as well as the leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Ahmed Sadat. The Jerusalem Post could not confirm the report. Despite the optimism, the report quoted other Egyptian sources as saying that problems with finalizing the deal still remained, and that Hamas had refused to budge on their demand that Israel release the requested 450 prisoners. However, the sources told the paper that these problems would likely be resolved before the Kadima primaries, and if they are not, that the end of Olmert's term would help facilitate that process. According to the sources, Dekel had been trying to negotiate creative solutions which would allow Israel a little more flexibility. One such proposal, the sources told the paper, was a suggestion that Hamas submit to Israel a list of 1,000 prisoners, from which Israel would then select 450 for release.