Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat – Egyptian and Israeli sources stated Friday that Cairo and Tel Aviv are close to reaching agreements on developments in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, at the heart of which is the prisoner exchange deal between the two sides. The sources also stated that these agreements would be made public following a meeting between Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday.
In this regard, the sources also referred to important meetings between Egyptian Intelligence Chief Omar Suleiman, Israeli negotiator Haggai Hadas and head of the Hamas politburo Khaled Meshaal on the “prisoner exchange deal.” They added that the fact that the Israeli Interior Minister will be accompanying Netanyahu on his visit to Cairo is a good indication, from the practical side, that a prisoner exchange deal will be reached soon.
The sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that Hadas’ visit to Cairo lasted many hours and he met Omar Suleiman and a number of his senior aides in order to discuss the details of the release of Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the release of the captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.
The sources said “the Egyptian President will meet Netanyahu and his delegation over Iftar [the breaking of the fast in Ramadan] in Heliopolis, Cairo, in order to discuss developments in the Palestinian-Israeli peace process, the prisoner exchange and bilateral ties between Tel Aviv and Cairo.”
On his part, North Sinai Governor Major General Mohammed Abdul Fadil Shousha said that Egyptian authorities opened the Rafah border crossing to Palestinian pilgrims trying to make their way to Saudi Arabia. An official at the Rafah border crossing said that Egyptian authorities will open the crossing again next Tuesday for three days so that hundreds of stranded Palestinians on both sides could cross and spend Eid al Fitr with their relatives in the Gaza Strip.