Egypt's Intelligence Chief, Omar Suleiman, expressed optimism that a
prisoner swap deal between Israel and the Palestinians will be reached
within the coming weeks before the end of the year. Israeli officials
also said a deal is soon.

Earlier on Wednesday, Suleiman met with Israeli Defense Minister, Amir Peretz, and held talks on a possible swap deal that would see the release of the captured Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, in exchange of releasing Palestinian detainees.

Suleiman also met with Israeli's Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, and held talks on the truce and prisoner exchange, in addition to separate meetings with the Israeli Minister for “Strategic Affairs” Avigdor Lieberman, and National Infrastructure Minister, Benyamin Ben-Eliezer.

Suleiman voiced some positive comments after his Wednesday night meeting with the Israeli Minister of  National Infrastructures, Benjamin Ben Eliezer.

Meanwhile, Israeli sources reported that Suleiman was unable to bridge the gap between the Israeli and Palestinian positions regarding the number  and identity of the detainees who will be freed.

In an Israeli move that might be related to the talks, Israel released, on Wednesday, one of the imprisoned Palestinian ministers. Abdul-Rahman Zeidan, Palestinian Public Works Minister, from the Hamas movement, was freed less than a month after he was taken prisoner by the army.

Dozens of ministers, legislators, mayors and officials, including Dr. Aziz Dweik, head of the Palestinian Legislative Council, remain imprisoned after Israeli took them prisoner following the abduction of the Israeli soldiers on June 25.