The Qatari newspaper Al-Sharq is reporting today that a deal to release kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit is in the works and will include the release of 1,400 Palestinian prisoners to be completed in the next few days.
The deal reported by the paper calls for the gradual release of prisoners; stopping assassinations by Israel; and the release of funds by Israel to the Palestinian Authority for the return of Gilad Shalit and an end to Kassam rocket attacks on Israel.
The report said that in the first phase of the process Shalit will be released simultaneously with a group of 300 prisoners to be released by Israel. They will be followed by two additional groups of 300 and another 200 by the end of December.
Israeli sources say, however, that the deal does not include Marwan Barghouti, a leading Palestinian political figure who is serving a life sentence in Israel for his involvement in terror activities during the second Intifada.
According to the report, sources say that the deal is a result of a multinational effort which includes Egypt, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey.
Prime Minister of the Hamas government Ismail Hanyia said that it is the Egyptians who are acting decisively on this issue and that there has been much progress in this matter.
Prime Minister Olmert said in a briefing before the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee today that he has no knowledge of the deal, and that he first learned about it from the media.
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