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Details of Israeli-Palestinian Prisoner Exchange Emerge

This is major news, and is also covered in the Ha'aretz, Washington Post, and the Guardian. But I like the way that the Al Jazeera coverage here, emphasizes the concern over HOW the prisoner exchange is done. In other words, how the ethics of how the transfer happens is more important than how many are released. This concern over the choices about who would be released, as many prisoners near the end of their terms, is not being covered in these other papers.

Although the Guardian's interview is good, in that the Israeli capture & imprisonment of the entire elected government of Palestine is again being (finally) brought up. But this analysis that Al Jazeera has, about what the deeper Palestinian perspective on prisoner exchange may be, is lacking in the others, which is why I'm reposting it here.

The other articles I'm referring to are:
 http://www.guardian.co.uk/israel/Story/0,,1865195,00.html
 http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/758656.html
 link to www.washingtonpost.com
Details of Israeli-Palestinian Prisoner Exchange Emerge

Date: 03 / 09 / 2006 [September 3rd, 2006]

Bethlehem - Ma'an -

Israeli political and security sources confirmed reports on Sunday of the existence
of a deal to exchange prisoners. The exchange is believed to involve the release of
the captive Israeli soldier Gil'ad Shalit, in exchange for fewer than a tenth of
Palestinian prisoners that Israel has detained.

According to Israeli sources, the Egyptian mediation team members are the actors in
this field and the exchange will take place over three consecutive stages, lasting a
period of weeks, but not months, as the government of Olmert has previously
demanded.

Israel was offered a deal for the exchange of prisoners, based primarily on the good
faith of Israel, but the resistance in Gaza rejected the goodwill of Israel, as it
is considered a check without a deposit or available balance.

Despite that, the Prime Minister of Israel said more than once on Israeli
television, that he would not release Palestinian prisoners, "never, never, never."
His government, however, had already started negotiations to return the captive
soldier, Shalit, who is thought to have been detained at the resistance prison in
Gaza over the last two months.

The Israeli official heading the negotiations and the exchange is Oufar Dikil, who
has been moving between Cairo and Berlin to complete the deal.

The father of Gil'ad Shalit said to the Israeli Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper that he
hoped that these negotiations would bear fruit and that the return of his son
safely. According to a leak of the deal, the release of 800 Palestinian prisoners
that will be in stages:

The first stage: Israel releases 300 prisoners and after a few days the Palestinian
resistance releases Corporal Shalit.

The second stage: after a couple of months, Israel releases 300 prisoners more.

The third stage: to come at the end of the, Israel releases a further 200
Palestinian prisoners. Israel still refuses to include the prisoner Marwan Al
Barghouthi or the Lebanese prisoner Samir Al-Qintar.

Yedioth Ahronoth also stated that Israeli security delegations visited Cairo in
August and held lengthy talks with Egyptian Intelligence Minister, Omar Sulaiman,
who has been mediating to complete the deal. The newspaper says that the
negotiations of Olmert and Oufar Dikil have taken secret until now.

The Palestinian side in the negotiations is less concerned with the number of
prisoners that the deal will include, as they as they are more concerned with the
overall quality of the deal and its political and moral value.

Over half of the Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli occupation prisons
(about 10,000 prisoners), are due for release within the coming three years due to
the end of their sentences. The priority for the Palestinians is to see those
prisoners released who are:

1. Children, women, and infirm prisoners.

2. Prisoners who have spent , or are due to spend, at least ten years in the Israeli
jails.

In addition, Palestinians wish to see the release of the symbols of political
struggle who were engaged in public awareness, such as the deputies Hussam Khader
and Marwan Al-Barghouthi, the secretary-generals such as Ahmed Sa'adat, Rakad Salem
and Abdel Rahim Malluh and leaders of Hamas, Fatah and Islamic Jihad .

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