Report raises hopes of possible Shalit deal

The end of the ordeal of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit may be moving closer - but at a very slow pace.

A newspaper report in Israel has claimed that it had agreed a deal that would free 450 Hamas prisoners in exchange for Mr Shalit.

However, according to the report in Haaretz, there were still areas where the two sides were a long way apart.

Quoting Palestinian sources in Cairo, the newspaper said that Israel wanted some of the prisoners to be deported abroad or to Gaza rather than returned home to the West Bank.

But there appeared to be some doubt that Hamas had agreed to such a condition, or indeed any pre-conditions, and might also have insisted that the consent of the prisoners themselves would be needed before anything moved forward.

One senior Hamas official, named as Mahmoud A-Zhara, even denied that any talks about Mr Shalit had taken place at all.

The newspaper also noted that Ofer Dekel, Israel’s lead negotiator on the issue, had arrived in Cairo on Thursday for talks with mediation officials from Egypt.

    Last updated: 5:13pm, July 6 2010