Senior Palestinian Arab and Egyptian officials said on Wednesday that Egypt is exerting heavy pressure to complete the exchange deal between Israel and Hamas, which would see release of security prisoners in exchange for the return of Israeli missing persons and IDF casualties as part of a comprehensive agreement on a long-term ceasefire.
The Palestinian Arab newspaper Al-Quds reported that Israel's recent series of relief measures for the Gaza Strip are directly linked to the pressure being exerted on Israel by the United States, Egypt and other countries to improve the economic situation in the Gaza Strip as a first step in advancing the exchange deal.
According to these sources, further relief measures are expected on the part of Israel in the near future in an attempt to build trust with Hamas to advance the exchange deal.
Citing security officials in Israel, Dr. Amir Bohbot reported that the relief measures for the Gaza Strip are intended to create a divide and rule between Hamas, which is the governmental authority, and the Palestinian street, thereby undermining Hamas' legitimacy to riot across the border and launch incendiary balloons at Israel.
According to the Israeli security sources, the Hamas leadership should internalize that it should return to the negotiating table and reach a compromise in order to receive large projects such as industrial zones and the rehabilitation of the Gaza Strip in exchange for the return of prisoners and missing persons.
On the other hand, sources close to Hamas told the Al-Quds newspaper that the movement's leadership has no objection to advancing the issue of the exchange deal and provided that it is in accordance with its terms.
This past May, Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip, Yahya Sinwar, said he was ready to advance negotiations on the exchange deal, but stressed that Hamas would in no way agree to link this issue to the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip or to the lifting the siege.
"The plains are parallel, but any connection between them is fundamentally wrong," Sinwar said at the time.