According to a report leaked by diplomatic sources close to Egyptian mediators, the Israeli government may be willing to release jailed Palestinian resistance leader and former Presidential candidate Marwan Barghouthi in exchange for the release of Israeli Corporal Gilad Shalit, who is being held by Palestinian resistance groups. The release of the jailed Palestinian leader would herald a dramatic change in Israeli policy. Israeli officials have long stated that the release of the popular legislator, and founder of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the armed wing of the Fateh party, was off the table for negotiation.
The report was leaked to Al-Bayan', an Arabic-language newspaper in the United Arab Emirates, and included a statement that the negotiations for the prisoner releases could still be impeded by outside forces, including the US and Britain.
Previously, Israeli officials had discussed the release of only certain low-level political prisoners, including less than one hundred of the over 10,000 Palestinians imprisoned by Israel.
Now, according to the leaked report, the Israelis are actually considering releasing leaders like Barghouthi, as well as a number of other legislators that Israeli forces abducted in 2006. Over 100 Palestinian legislators were abducted during the 2006 raids, which targeted the recently-elected Hamas party in the West Bank. Those on the list to be released include Hassan Salame, Abdullah Barguti and Ibrahim Hamed.