Hamas Leader Says Terror Group Ready for ‘Serious’ Prisoner Exchange Talks With Israel
by Benjamin Kerstein
As Israel and Egyptian diplomats meet and Egyptian intelligence agencies liaison with the Gaza-based terror group Hamas, Israel’s Channel 13 reported Monday that Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar said the group is ready for talks with Israel.
Sinwar reportedly said that Hamas “is ready for serious negotiations, quickly and indirect, on the issue of a prisoner exchange deal with Israel.”
“The deal will liberate prisoners,” he added.
The terror chief said current contacts with Israel have stopped for the moment due to the unstable political situation in Israel, which may lead to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s replacement by a government led by Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid.
Hamas is currently holding the bodies of Israeli soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, who were killed in Israel’s 2014 war with Hamas; as well as living Israeli citizens Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed.
Sinwar also said that Hamas’ war with Israel earlier this month has changed the world’s list of priorities, on which the Palestinians will now be at the top.
On Monday that Egypt’s intelligence chief Abbas Kamel met with Hamas leaders in order to shore up the recent ceasefire with Israel, as well as to discuss plans for reconstructing the Strip after the fighting, reported Reuters.
After meeting with Hamel, Sinwar’s deputy Khalil Al-Hayya commented on the possibility of a prisoner exchange, saying, “We have gone a distance in meetings that had taken place before the aggression (in May), but the occupation hasn’t been serious so far. If the enemy was serious, we could move ahead faster.”
Kamel had previously met on Sunday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.