A possible deal to release Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit after five years of captivity in Gaza has been reached, Israeli and Hamas officials said Tuesday, the New York Times reports.
Officials said the proposal was to exchange 1,000 Palestinian prisoners for Shalit. The swap will take place in November, Al Arabiya television said, according to NBC News.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called an emergency meeting of all 29 ministers in the Israeli cabinet to discuss the proposal and vote on it on Tuesday.
According to Ha'aretz:
Officials in the Prime Minister's Office said that "a brief window of opportunity has been opened that would possibly lead to Gilad Shalit's homecoming," adding: "The window appeared following fears that collapsing Mideast regimes and the rise of extremist forces would make Gilad Shalit's return impossible."
NBC News reports that a spokesman for the armed wing of Hamas had confirmed the deal. Abu Ubeida, the spokesman, told Reuters: "We are in the process of completing the technical arrangements to complete the deal within days."
According to the New York Times:
Sergeant Shalit was seized in a cross-border raid by Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups in June 2006, and was taken into Gaza. He was 19 at the time, and efforts to end his prolonged incarceration in Gaza have become an emotional cause in Israel.
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