Egypt Back to Two-Stage Shalit Plan

Ad Feedback - CAIRO - Egyptian Intelligence chief Omar Suleiman led closed-door negotiations on Wednesday for a two-stage prisoner swap for the release of IDF (Israel Defense Forces) Cpl. Gilad Shalit, kidnapped on June 25, 2006.

"Intensive and tough negotiations are underway on the names of the Hamas prisoners to be traded for Shalit," an unnamed source told the French news agency AFP.

In the first stage, Israel would release some 300 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Hamas turning Shalit over to Egypt.

Stage two involves the release of some 1,000 prisoners for Shalit's return to Israel.

Egypt proposed a similar plan in the past, but Hamas's demand for the release of convicted mass murderers has been an ongoing snag in the negotiations.

"There are some names of terrorists whose release would be unacceptable for Israeli public opinion," the source said.

"The question is whether Hamas is flexible enough to remove such names," he said.

Israeli negotiator Ofer Dekel, who returned to Cairo Tuesday to participate in Wednesday's sessions, remained overnight to continue meeting on Thursday.

Source: AFP

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