Palestinian sources reported that the Israeli side informed the Egyptian mediator that the Israeli government of Benjamin Netanyahu approved the return of 18 West Bank detainees, who were deported to Gaza under the Shalit prisoner-swap deal.

The Maan News Agency reported that Ziad Abu Ein of the Palestinian Ministry of Detainees said that the detainees received information from Egypt, the official mediator in the prisoner swap deal, stating that 18 detainees will be allowed back into the West Bank.

Abu Ein added that the ministry is still awaiting official information from Egypt or from Israel.

One thousand and fifty Palestinian prisoners were released in the swap-deal with Israel in two stages. The first stage was implemented in November of last year, whereby 477 prisoners were released, exchange for the Israeli soldier, who was captured by Palestinian armed resistance groups on June 25, 2006, in the Gaza Strip.

The second phase, the remaining 550 who were chosen solely by Israel, was implemented in December.

Under the agreement, Israel vowed to allow the exiled detainees back home in the occupied West Bank, including those who were exiled to nearby Arab countries, including eleven Palestinians who were exiled to Turkey.