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Egypt negotiating release of Israeli soldier held by Hamas

[JURIST] Egyptian-mediated negotiations [JURIST report] to free an Israeli soldier held by Palestinian Hamas militants are ongoing, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak [official profile; BBC profile] told a Cairo newspaper Saturday. The capture of Israeli Cpl. Gilad Shalit [Wikipedia backgrounder] by Hamas in Gaza in June prompted Israel to detain about 30 Palestinian lawmakers [JURIST report] in retaliation, including nearly a third of the Hamas-led Palestinian cabinet. Hamas [CFR backgrounder; JURIST news archive] originally demanded the release of Palestinian and Arab prisoners in exchange for the return of the Israeli soldier but Israel [JURIST news archive] has publicly refused to agree to a prisoner swap. Mubarak acknowledged that Egyptian mediators are working on a plan that calls for a specification of Palestinian conditions for a prisoner exchange that could include the release of Palestinian women and minors from Israeli jails.

Earlier negotiations broke down after the capture of two more Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah militants [US State Dept. backgrounder; BBC backgrounder] set off an Israeli offensive in Lebanon [JURIST news archive]. Mubarak suggested that "other parties", possibly referring to Syria, could have influenced Hamas to reject the previous plan to exchange prisoners. AP has more.

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