President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday threw his support behind a prisoner exchange deal between Hamas and Israel that would free 1,000 Palestinians held in Israeli jails.
“We congratulate the exchange deal, and we will continue exerting our best efforts to free all prisoners” held by Israel, Abbas told Ma’an in Venezuela, where he is on a state visit.
Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal said Israel will release 1,027 prisoners in two stages. Within a week, 450 will be swapped for Shalit and the rest will be freed two months later. Twenty-seven women are among those on the release roster.
“We are happy with this great achievement and we thank our God for that. But our happiness is mixed with sorrow because we were not able to gain the freedom of all prisoners,” Meshaal said in a televised address from Damascus.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, asking his cabinet to approve the lopsided swap and under constant public pressure to bring Gilad Shalit home, said the soldier would be reunited with his family “in the coming days”.