Abu Mujahid, spokesperson of the Popular Resistance Committees, one of three Palestinian groups holding the Israeli corporal Gilad Shalit captive since June 25 2006, stated on Friday that dramatic developments took place in talks regarding the release of Shalit in exchange for the release of Palestinian detainees imprisoned by Israel. Israeli online daily, Haaretz, reported that Abu Mujahid said that the swap could be carried out soon if the Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, agrees, but he refrained for providing any further details.

The deal would include releasing leaders of Palestinian factions imprisoned by Israel, including Marwan Barghouthi, Ahmad Saadat and Abdul-Rahim Mallouh, in addition to leaders of Hamas.

Moneer Mansour, chairman of the Association for Prisoners’ Welfare told Haaretz that the swap deal also includes releasing security detainees who are residents of Israel. This includes releasing Sami Younis, 77, and his cousin Maher Wakrim Younis, both from Ara village in the northern part of Israel, and Safi Mansour from Tira. They are all serving life terms.

Mansour added that the name of Hafez Kundus of Jaffa, serving 29 years, was also raised, Haaretz said.

Moreover, Suleiman Abu Sneina, the Palestinian designate minister of Detainees Affairs stated that Israel demanded to have full control over the names of the detainees who would be freed, and that it rejected the release of Arab residents of Israel but the Palestinian negotiators refused to to strike any compromise on this issue.

Meanwhile, Abu Mujahid called on the father of Shalit to pressure Israel to push forward the issue of a prisoner swap and added that the captured soldiers is receiving good treatment.