The Israeli government is serious about concluding a prisoner exchange deal with Hamas, Israeli sources have said.
However, the government is determined not to release “prisoners convicted of killing Israelis,” considering it a “taboo,” Israel’s Channel 12 reported.
Hamas announced on Monday an imminent prisoner swap deal with Israel, saying that it has “forced the occupation to yield to the demands of the resistance.”
Its statement confirmed ongoing negotiations over a prisoner exchange brokered by Egypt.
Last week, the movement held high-level talks in Cairo, informing Egyptian authorities that it was ready for a swap agreement that would be either comprehensive or held in two stages.
Hamas had proposed a two-stage deal, the first phase of which includes the release of two Israeli civilian prisoners, Avraham Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed, in addition to information about soldiers Shaul Aaron and Hadar Goldin, in exchange for the release of Palestinian prisoners, who include elderly, children, women and detainees suffering from illnesses, as well as bodies of deceased prisoners.
In the second stage, negotiations are underway regarding the handover of soldiers in exchange for 800 prisoners.
A source familiar with the negotiations had previously said that Hamas had proposed handing over documents about the two Israeli soldiers after the implementation of the first phase.
But Israel did not heed the proposal.
It is believed that the obstacle impeding the exchange deal is Israel’s refusal to release prisoners, who are included on Hamas’ so-called “VIP” list.
Israeli sources said that Prime Minister Naftali Bennett feared that the release of senior prisoners would harm unity within his coalition.