Senior Hamas delegation to discuss potential prisoner swap with Israel

Hamas’ high-profile delegation indicates the importance of the meetings and the progress both Egypt and Hamas hope to make during the visit.

By Tobias Siegal, World Israel News

A senior Hamas delegation arrived to Cairo, Egypt on Sunday for a series of meetings with Egyptian intelligence officials, Turkish news agency Anadolu reported, citing a Hamas official.

The official reportedly said that the meeting will be attended by 19 members of Hamas’ political bureau, including Hamas’s leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, and other Hamas leaders arriving from Gaza, Qatar and Turkey.

The high-profile delegation indicates the importance of the meetings and the progress both Egypt and Hamas hope to make during the visit.

Several meetings are expected to cover various internal issues and Palestinian developments, the official said, with Israel Hayom reporting that they will focus on a potential prisoner swap and the consolidation of a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas.

Hamas currently holds Israeli captives Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed, as well as the bodies of IDF soldiers St.-Sgt. Oron Shaul and Lt. Hadar Goldin.

Zaher Jabarin, a senior Hamas official in charge of prisoners affairs, told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed last month that the terror group has reached out through Egyptian mediators, but that Israel is unwilling to meet the “necessary price” for the return of its citizens.

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According to Lebanese newspaper Al Akhbar that price includes the freedom of all the prisoners released in the Gilad Shalit prisoner swap who were subsequently re-detained – a group which includes convicted murderers – in addition to all Palestinian women and children in Israeli prisons and the six prisoners who recently escaped the Gilboa Prison.

Hamas will not be pressured into releasing the captives in exchange for reconstruction efforts in Gaza, Jabarin told the Qatari-owned Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, adding that Israel must agree to prisoner swap demands if it wants Hamas to release the captives.

In August, Prime Minister Naftali held a meeting with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi in Cairo, during which he emphasized Egypt’s significant role in maintaining the security stability in the Gaza Strip and in finding a solution to the issue of the [Israeli] captives and missing [held in the Strip,]” a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office read.

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Lauren Marcus contributed to this report.