PM’s office: Reports about Shalit deal ‘misleading’


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Reports about a deal to secure the release of a captured Israeli soldier are misleading, the Prime Minister’s Office said.

Reports circulated over the weekend that a deal to release Gilad Shalit was imminent.

"Many details coming from abroad and in foreign media are being published lately, but they are not credible and some of them are even intentionally distorted," the Prime Minister’s Office said Monday in a statement. "Efforts to secure Gilad Shalit’s release are continuously underway, out of the media’s view, and we have no intentions of commenting beyond that."

The New York Times reported Monday that Hamas and Israeli officials said the deal would likely include Marwan Barghouti, who is seen as a future leader of the Palestinian Authority. Also Monday, a newspaper affiliated with Hamas reported that the deal hinges on one prisoner whose release is still being negotiated by the two sides.

The report comes on the heels of a report Sunday by Fox News which said that Israel has approved a final list of 70 prisoners to be exchanged as part of the 450 prisoners named by Hamas in exchange for Shalit. The list replaces 70 other prisoners that were rejected by the Jewish state.

Meanwhile, a Hamas delegation is scheduled to meet Tuesday in Egypt with the German mediator in the Shalit case, reported Al-Arabiya, an Arabic-language television news station based in Dubai.

Shalit’s family met Monday in Tel Aviv with the prime minister’s special negotiator.

"Now is not the time to talk," Shalit’s father, Noam, said prior to the meeting. Following the meeting he said, "I am still not reassured."

Hamas has said it plans to hold the prisoner exchange on Friday, the day of a Muslim feast.

Israeli President Shimon Peres said Sunday following a meeting in Cairo with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak that "real progress" has been made in negotiations to release Shalit. 

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