Hamas-Israel Prisoner Swap May Stir Palestinian Confrontation

Wednesday, 12 Oct 2011 07:01 PM

By Paul Scicchitano

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Next week’s planned prisoner swap between Hamas and Israel could result in a more confrontational Palestinian movement, according to The New York Times.

“Hamas has been in the shadows, and this moves it into the Palestinian forefront for now,” the Times quotes Zakaria al-Qaq, a political scientist at Al Quds University in East Jerusalem, as saying.

Under the prisoner exchange that Israel and Hamas announced on Tuesday, the sworn enemies plan to swap Gila Shalit, an Israeli soldier being held prisoner in Gaza, for more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners.

Israeli journalists, who attended an intelligence briefing, reportedly said that Marwan Barghouti would not be among the prisoners included in the deal. Seen as a possible successor to Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, Barghouti is a top leader of the Fatah group sentenced to five life terms.

The deal, which Egypt brokered, had been under consideration for years, and it was unclear why officials decided to act now. The prisoner exchange also could invigorate protests around the Middle East and strengthen the relationship among Hamas, Egypt, and Turkey, which also played a role in brokering the deal, the Times reported.

Khaled Meshal, the political leader of Hamas, places the total number of Palestinian prisoners at 1,027, including 315 prisoners serving life sentences, and 27 women.

Shalit, a sergeant, was captured in a cross-border raid by Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups in June 2006.

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