Clinton to mediate prisoner swap deal between Israel and Hamas

Israel is trying to engage former US Prez Bill Clinton to help mediate a prisoner exchange deal.

Last Updated: Jul 11, 2010, 20:14 PM IST

Jerusalem: Israel is trying to engage former US President Bill Clinton to help mediate a prisoner exchange deal with Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip and is in possession of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, a media report said.

Israel`s hawkish Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met
Clinton during his US visit early this week and proposed that
he visit Gaza to negotiate a prisoner exchange deal with top
Hamas officials that would lead to the release of hundreds of
Palestinian prisoners incarcerating in Israeli jails in
exchange for Shalit, Palestinian news agency Ma`am, reported.

Shalit was captured in a cross border attack in June
2006 which led to Israel tightening its noose over the 1.5
million populated coastal territory facing severe shortage of
necessary goods.

Hamas leaders haven`t received any information on
Clinton`s potential visit, but an official of the Islamist
faction, Ahmed Yousef, told journalists that his group
"welcomes every effort to expose Israeli crimes against the
population of Gaza."

"The government is open to the world through contact
with Western officials, who are well briefed on the suffering
of the Palestinian people," yousef was quoted by the agency as
saying.

Meanwhile, demands for a prisoner exchange to release
Shalit has gained momentum in Israel with thousands of
citizens participating in a 12-day march led by the soldier`s
parents.

A German mediator has so far been trying to negotiate
a prisoner exchange deal between Israel and Hamas, with
Egypt`s help, but has failed to work out a formula that
satisfies both sides.

PTI