Israel, Palestinians Planning Next Phase of Prisoner Swap

Posted October 20th, 2011 at 12:45 am (UTC-5)
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Palestinians are planning for the second phase of a prisoner swap deal with Israel that has already resulted in freedom for a captured Israeli soldier and hundreds of Palestinians.

A spokesman for the military wing of the Palestinian Hamas group says old and sick prisoners will be given priority in the next phase of the release.

Abu Obeida added that Palestinians who have spent more than 20 years in prison will also receive priority under the Egyptian-mediated deal. He commented to reporters on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Israel freed 477 Palestinians in exchange for Gilad Shalit. Palestinian militants had seized the Israeli soldier during cross-border raid into southern Israel in 2006.

The prisoner swap calls for another 550 Palestinians to be released over the next two months.

On Wednesday, Hamas announced it would give $2,000 to each former detainee who arrived in the Gaza Strip after being released in the swap.

Meanwhile, Shalit took a stroll with family members on Wednesday in the Israeli town of Mitzpeh Hila. His father has said he needs treatment for shrapnel injuries that were not treated while he was in custody.

In a separate development, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said now is not the time to resume peace talks with Israel.

He told a pro-Palestinian lobby group in Washington on Wednesday that talks have not taken place under terms that are “consistent” with what is needed to bring about an agreement.

The U.S.-mediated talks stalled last year after an Israeli moratorium on West Bank settlement construction expired. Palestinians oppose building on land that they want as part of a future state.