Ali Waked
December 9, 2009 - 1:00am,7340,L-3817547,00.html

The implementation of a prisoner exchange deal between Israel and Hamas is waiting for an Israeli decision, according to Palestinian sources involved in the negotiations.

"Our demands are clear. We made them clear to the German mediator and we have done all we can for the deal to executed," one of the Gaza sources told Ynet.

Israel continues to keep silent about the deal. On Tuesday, a Palestinian source told Ynet that the German mediator has asked Hamas to refrain from leaking details of the prisoner swap deal to the Arab press.

The Shalit family members met Tuesday with Hagai Hadas, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's main negotiator.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority continues to monitor the negotiations with concern. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Monday that the deal would not be completed this week due to the differences between the sides, but sources in the Strip told Ynet that Palestinian sources have been pressuring Israel and the United States to avoid having "heavyweight" prisoners Marwan Barghouti and Ahmed Saadat included in the first release stage.

PA officials hope that Barghouti – the former Tanzim leader in the West Bank, who is serving five life sentences for his involvement in a series of deadly terror attacks – and Saadat – secretary-general of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine who was jailed for his involvement in the murder of Minister Rehavam Ze'evi – will be released as part of the second stage, which will be presented as a gesture to Abbas.

The status of Saadat and Barghouti is one of the most sensitive issues in the discussions on the Shalit deal.

Sources in Ramallah denied the claim, saying they would be happy to see any Palestinian prisoners released. But unofficially, PA sources have admitted that they would prefer not to see Hamas get credit for the senior prisoners' release.

According to the sources, recent reports quoting Barghouti as criticizing the PA, in an implied manner, were the result of him being included in the deal between Israel and Hamas.

Barghouti told the Palestinian al-Quds daily in an interview published Wednesday that he believes the negotiations on a prisoner exchange deal between Israel and Hamas are "in their final stages".

Barghouti added that he is convinced the deal would help achieve reconciliation between rival Palestinian factions. He said his release from jail was "a national Palestinian interest."


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