Israel proposes prisoner swap with Egypt, Israeli radio says

An unnamed Palestinian newspaper on Wednesday reported Egypt and Israel are on the brink of a prisoner exchange. 

“There’s a prisoner exchange deal struck among Egypt and Israel for releasing a number of Egyptians imprisoned in Israel in return for the release of Ouda Tarabin, imprisoned in Egypt 11 years ago for espionage," the newspaper quoted an Israeli source.

Israel's Deputy Minister of Development of the Negev and the Galilee, Ayoub Kara, proposed the swap to the Egyptian consul in Eilat, Walid al-Sharif, who promised to discuss it with officials in Cairo, according to Israel radio.

No immediate response from Egypt was received. The number of Egyptians included in the deal has yet to be announced.

Israel radio said the meeting between Kara and al-Sharif will also broach the road barrier project which Israel decided to establish along parts of its shared border with Egypt. The barrier intends to thwart illegal infiltration into Israel.

Ouda Tarabin belongs to a Bedouin tribe in Sinai. Charged with transferring sensitive military information to Israel and attempting to recruit Egyptians to work with Israeli intelligence service, Tarabin was sentenced to 15 years in 1999.

Israeli army recruited his father Soliman after the 1967 war. In January 1990, Soliman and the family escaped to Israel and acquired Israeli nationality.  An Egyptian court then tried Soliman in absentia and sentenced him with 25 years in prison.

In 1999, Tarabin returned to Sinai claiming he was visiting his family in Arish. Shortly thereafter he was arrested by Egyptian security authorities.

Israeli Ambassador to Egypt Isaac Levanon has persistently sought Tarabin's release. Israel's leading government party, Likud, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, launched a campaign last year urging the same action.

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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