Egypt negotiating swap of Ilan Grapel for 81 Egyptians held in Israel

Informed Egyptian sources claim that Cairo and Tel Aviv are in negotiations for the release Ilan Grapel, an Israeli citizen accused of spying in Egypt, in return for 81 Egyptians detained in Israeli prisons.

The sources added that negotiations have already reached an advanced stage.

Former Egyptian ambassador to Israel, Mohamed Assem, for his part, said that the success of the other deal regarding the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, the Israeli apology to Egypt for killing Egyptian soldiers on the border, the Grapel deal and the deployment of Egyptian military troops in Taba for the first time “reflect Egypt’s calm diplomatic techniques.”

“This does not mean that relations between Egypt and Israel are rosy,” he said. “These endeavors were made secretly in order to achieve results that preserve Egypt's dignity.”

“I cannot predict the reaction of the Egyptian public to the Grapel deal,” Assem said. “We are now in the post-Mubarak phase, which is characterized by revolutionary anger.”

“But the Shalit deal may lead to serious peace negotiations between the Palestinians and Israel, provided that Israel stops settlements in the occupied territories,” he said.

Assem added that the Shalit deal gives confidence to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who will be credited with returning the captured soldier after several years.

“It would also make Hamas popular,” he said.

Translated from the Arabic Edition

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