Israel moves closer for prisoner exchange deal with Hamas
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is ready to release Palestinian prisoners behind deadly attacks in exchange for a soldier captured by Palestinian fighters, local media reported on Monday. At a ministerial meeting on Sunday, Olmert voted to ease the criteria to allow the release of people with "blood on their hands" -- those implicated in attacks that have killed Israelis, the reports said.
The premier backed the move despite opposition by the head of the Shin Beth security agency, they said, according to AFP.
The move is aimed at paving the way for a Palestinian prisoner release in exchange for Gilad Shalit, who was seized in June 2006.
Meanwhile, Hamas has given Israel a letter apparently written by abducted Shalit, Haaretz newspaper has reported Monday. Some sources told the Tel Aviv-based daily that Israel received a letter last month written in Shalit's handwriting. Other sources said that Hamas gave Israel a message of a different kind from the captured soldier.