RAMALLAH, West Bank – Egyptian mediators handed Israel a list of names of Palestinian prisoners the captors of an Israeli soldiers want released as part of a swap, a senior Palestinian official said Saturday.
Information Minister Mustafa Barghouti did not say how many prisoners are on the list. In the past, Hamas-allied militants demanded the release of 1,400 prisoners held by Israel in exchange for freeing Israeli Cpl. Gilad Shalit, abducted 10 months ago. In all, Israel holds some 9,300 Palestinians.
Israeli officials declined comment Saturday on the handover of the list.
Barghouti said the next step was up to Israel. "The ball is now on the Israeli side, which can now speed up the release of Shalit and the release of some of the ... Palestinian prisoners who are in Israeli jails," he told a news conference following a Palestinian Cabinet meeting.
"If the Israeli government is serious, there is now a very good opportunity to end this chapter," Barghouti said.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has said he is ready to release large numbers of Palestinian prisoners.
However, negotiations deadlocked in the past over who should be freed. The Palestinians are demanded the release of long-serving inmates, while Israel has balked at freeing those involved in attacks that killed or wounded Israelis.