Ali Waked
June 10, 2008 - 5:13pm,7340,L-3553564,00.html

Senior Palestinian sources in Gaza claimed on Tuesday that Egypt has increased its pressure on Hamas to submit a new list of prisoners it wants released as part of a comprehensive ceasefire agreement with Israel that would include the release of kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit.

Hamas' original list of 300 prisoners was, for the most part, rejected by Israel. According to Palestinian sources, Israel has agreed to release 71 prisoners "with blood on their hands".

"Now Egypt expects Hamas to become more flexible, agree to Israel's request and transfer another list of prisoners," one of the sources said. Some 11,000 Palestinian prisoners are currently being held by Israel. Hamas demands the release of 450 of them in the framework of any exchange deal.

Egypt is pushing for a ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas so that, among other things, it would be able to convince Israel to reopen the Rafah crossing on its border with Gaza.

"Shalit has become a burden on Egyptian policy makers who want to end the affair and have Rafah reopened," according to the source. "We expect that in the next few days Hamas will respond positively to Egypt's request (regarding the prisoners list); while this may not result in an immediate breakthrough, it will facilitate the mediation efforts to reach a truce."

Egypt has made it clear that a positive attitude on the part of Hamas to a prisoner exchange deal would lead to the reopening of the Rafah crossing.


 On Monday Shalit's parents received another letter from their son, who was kidnapped by Hamas during a cross-border raid over 20 months ago.

The letter – which was preceded by two others – was relayed by Hamas as part of the group's pledge to former US President Jimmy Carter.


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