Israel likely to exchange 980 Palestinian prisoners for Shalit

Jerusalem, Nov 30 (DPA) Israel would likely release 980 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who was kidnapped by Hamas more than three years ago, the State Prosecution said.

The government is likely to free the 450 prisoners that Hamas has asked for in exchange for Shalit, as well as an additional 530 prisoners, as a “gesture to the Palestinians”, the State Prosecution said Sunday in response to a petition submitted by a group of bereaved parents.

An Israeli Terror Victims Association and three bereaved fathers submitted a petition to the High Court last week requesting the publication of the names of the Palestinian prisoners included in the proposed swap.

The names of the prisoners are still being negotiated, according to the statement from the State Prosecution.

“There is a possibility for the release in principle of about 450 prisoners whose names are being delivered by Hamas, and whose release is being examined in detail in accordance with different considerations and based on rationales of security and values,” the statement said.

Regarding the additional 530 Palestinian prisoners, the prosecution said that “the list of these prisoners has not been formed yet and no criteria have been set on this matter.”

Israel and Hamas intensified negotiations for Shalit’s release last week and a final deal could be expected within days, according to Israeli and Arab media reports quoting Hamas officials and sources in Egypt.

Shalit was captured by Hamas militants in a June 2006 raid from the Gaza Strip on an Israeli army base.