Last week’s hopeful talk of a prisoner exchange between Israel and the Palestinians has grown into increasing frustration this week as the negotiators failed to reach a compromise agreement.Today, the Arab press reported that Israel has refused to include a number of prominent Hamas leaders in the list of prisoners to be released.
The Hamas leaders in question include Abbas al-Sayyad, Ibrahim Hamed, Abdel Nasser Issa, and Abdallah Barghouti. The Hamas leadership has reportedly said that the release of these men into exile in foreign countries would be an acceptable compromise, but Israel has not agreed to that option.
There’s no word yet on whether the popular leader of the armed wing of the Fateh party, Marwan Barghouthi, will be included in any prisoner swap.
Although the publicity around a potential prisoner swap has died down, officials on both sides have said that negotiations are ongoing. Hamas officials have voiced concern over Israel’s apparent refusal to compromise on the list of Palestinian prisoners to be released.
The prisoner swap would involve the release of nearly a thousand Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the one Israeli soldier who is being held by Palestinian resistance factions. Over 8,000 Palestinians are currently imprisoned inside Israel, many of them held without charge, while Palestinians hold just one Israeli, Gilad Shalit, who was captured by Palestinian fighters in 2006 during a raid on the military base where he was stationed.