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Welcome to Palestine Today, a service of the International Middle East Media Center,, for Wednesday October 12th, 2011

After five years in captivity, Gilad Shalit is to be exchanged for over 1000 Palestinian Prisoners in a landmark deal between Israel and Hamas, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas leaves Bogota empty handed, these stories and more coming up; so stay tuned.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has been jetting around the world attempting to secure support in the upcoming United Nations vote.

After two days in Columbia, Abbas left disappointed, with President Santos stating that whilst he supported the Palestinian bid for statehood, he would only endorse direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.

Whilst Columbia’s loss is costly, due to its key position on the UN Security Council, Abbas has already secured support from 9 of the 15 Security Council members, including two permanent members; Russia and China.

Closer to home, Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu has announced plans to create a task force to explore ways of legalizing settlement outposts built on private Palestinian land.

After destroying several buildings in the illegal settlement outpost of Migron, near the city of Ramallah, and announcing plans to dismantle numerous other illegal settlement outposts throughout the West Bank, settler pressure within his government led Netanyahu to contact Minister of Justice, Yaakov Neeman, regarding the taskforce.

Whilst outposts built on privately owned Palestinian land, which too are illegal in Israeli eyes, the purpose of the task force is to legalise all other constructions within outposts and settlements, which have been built on state controlled land within the West Bank.

It is worth noting of course that the entire International Community regards any settlements and outposts within the occupied West Bank, and annexed East Jerusalem, to be illegal.

In more cheerful news for many, Israel and Hamas have agreed on a prisoner swap, which will see kidnapped Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, held in Gaza since June 2006, returned home, along with over 1000 Palestinian prisoners.

After months of secret negotiations in Egypt and Hamas signing off on the deal, the Israeli cabinet voted. With an overwhelming majority, only three ministers voted
against- the foreign minister, national infrastructure minister, and vice prime minister.
In the first phase of the swap, 450 Palestinians of Hamas’s choosing will be released, while Gilad will be transferred to Egypt. In phase 2, set to take place in around two months, the remaining Palestinians (chosen by Israel) will be released.

Of the initial 450, over 100 West Bankers and 131 Gaza residents will be allowed to return home. Of the remaining two hundred whom are to be expelled from the West Bank, 40 will be exiled overseas, and the remaining will be sent to Gaza.

Six detainees from the within the 1948 territories will be released, along with 27 female inmates.Only two of them to be deported, with the rest returning home.

Whilst this is good news for the family of Gilad Shalit, and the families of all those who are about to return home, our thoughts must go to the thousands still interned in Israeli prisons, including over two hundred under the age of 18, and the 15 who are members of the Palestinian Legislative Council.

That was just some of the news from Palestine Today, for more updates; please visit our website at Thank you for joining us from occupied Bethlehem. This report has been brought to you by Hussam Qassis and me, William Gibson.