Israeli premier in Egypt for talks over truce with HamasJune 24th, 2008 - 5:23 pm ICT by IANS
Cairo, June 24 (DPA) Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert arrived Tuesday in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh on a quick visit during which he will discuss with Egyptian President Hosny Mubarak a proposed prisoner swap between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas. In the talks, which come five days after a truce between Israel and Hamas took effect in the Gaza Strip, Mubarak and Olmert were expected to discuss Cairo’s mediation efforts to secure the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who was seized by militants in Gaza in a cross-border raid two years ago.
Shalit’s release is expected to be part of a prisoner exchange deal between Israel and Hamas.
The snag in negotiations is over the number and identity of Palestinian prisoners whose release Hamas is demanding.
A senior member of Hamas, Mussa Abu-Marzuk, told the pan-Arab daily al-Hayat that the prisoner swap deal was separate from agreed arrangements to end hostilities in the Gaza Strip.
The truce deal is tantamount to a real Israeli recognition - for the first time - of the legitimacy of Hamas and its control over Gaza, Abu-Marzuk said.
The six-month truce, which came into force in the Gaza Strip on Thursday, includes a gradual easing of an Israeli blockade of Gaza, which was imposed after Hamas took control of the territory last year.