Hamas agreed to deport 82 Palestinian prisoners during former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s term in office, as part of a deal to return kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, a top Hamas official told Ma’an News Agency on Shabbos.
The 82 prisoners, all West Bank residents, would be deported to either the Gaza Strip or out of Israel, the official currently serving time in an Israeli prison told Ma’an.
Israel and Hamas have been unsuccessful in negotiating the terms of release for Gilad Shalit, an Israel Defense Forces soldier who was abducted in Gaza five-years ago. Both parties have agreed that Israel will release 1000 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Shalit, 450 chosen by Hamas and the latter 550 determined by Israel.
Israel and the Islamist group have thus far agreed on 325 of the 450, with Hamas only agreeing to deport a handful of the released prisoners. The 82 prisoners would be from the Hamas-selected group according to the report, signifying a major concession on the Palestinian group’s part.
The Hamas official told Ma’an that the terms of release were determined when Ehud Olmert was prime minister, and that negotiations have since progressed to determine who the remaining 125 prisoners chosen by Hamas will be.
Hamas has also agreed that prisoners with Israeli citizenship who were serving terms of 20-30 years or more would be required to give up their Israeli citizenship in exchange for their release, forcing them to return to Gaza or leave the country, according to the Ma’an report.
The Hamas official claimed that Israel has refused to discuss the remaining 125 prisoners and has presented a new list of Palestinians they wish to release instead. The Israeli list and the Hamas list are entirely different from one another.
Israel has also demanded that an additional 76 of the prisoners chosen by Hamas be deported as well, with a total of 158 Palestinians forced to leave Israel upon their release. This list does not include Israeli citizens, as Israel has refused to release any Palestinian citizens of Israel.