Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak (photo)
said negotiations for the release of kidnapped Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldier Cpl. Gilad Shalit are in the final stages.
“Negotiations on releasing him are in their final stage and waiting for Hamas' approval,” Mubarak said.
Hamas conditions for the return of Shalit include Israel releasing Palestinian prisoners. While both sides have agreed through Egyptian mediation, nothing has been finalized. Among those Hamas demands released is Abbas Sayed, the mastermind of the massacre at the Park Hotel in Netanya over Passover in 2002, which killed 29 civilians.
It is expected that the final deal will be complete in a few weeks, which will take place in three stages.
In the first stage, Israel is expected to release 400 prisoners, among them women, minors and prisoners suffering from health problems. After this, Shalit would be released.
During the second stage Israel would release another group of Palestinians and the third stage would be the release of terrorists with “blood on their hands.”
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said the identity of the prisoners who would be released is still unclear.