by Mara Vigevani
Egypt has presented a new outline for a prisoner exchange deal between Hamas and Israel, the Jerusalem based Arabic-language newspaper al-Quds reported Wednesday.
According to the report, the transaction would be executed in several stages: First, Israel would transfer the bodies of terrorists to Hamas in return for information on Avera Mengistu, Hisham al-Sayed, and Jumaa Abu Ghanima, Israeli citizens who crossed into Gaza of their own volition and have not been heard from since.
In the second stage, Israel would release 54 prisoners who were released as part of the 2011 Gilad Shalit exchange but subsequently re-arrested by Israeli authorities after, and at the same time will begin negotiations for the release of the bodies of Lt. Hadar Goldin and Staff Sgt. Oron Shaul, IDF soldiers who were killed in 2014 during Operation Protective Edge.
According to the Hebrew-language Ma’ariv website a Hamas source stressed that Cairo was also working on a comprehensive plan that would lead to internal Palestinian reconciliation between the Hamas and Fatah parties, as well as an agreement with Israel to lift the naval blockade on the Gaza Strip and a long-term truce.
Israel has previously offered to return dozens of Palestinian civilians who crossed the border into Israel to Gaza in exchange for the Israeli citizens staying in Gaza, and to return the bodies of 19 Hamas members to Gaza who were killed during Operation Protective Edge in exchange for the return of the bodies of the IDF soldiers. But Hamas political officials, including deputy chairman of the Hamas politburo Musa Abu Marzuq, rejected the offer, saying it would be impossible to move forward without releasing the prisoners from the Shalit deal, claiming that this was a commitment that should be respected.
In addition, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) President Peter Maurer met last week with Hamas leader in Gaza Yahya Sinwar and asked to visit the missing Israelis in Gaza, but the request was rejected.