Olmert in last-ditch attempt to reach prisoners exchange deal with Hamas
Outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Saturday decided to dispatch two senior negotiators to Egypt in a last-ditch attempt to release a soldier held by Palestinian groups in the Gaza Strip. Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier, has been held in the Strip since being captured by Palestinian fighters in a cross-border raid in June 2006. Israel has said it could free hundreds of Palestinians in exchange for his release.
According to Reuters, a statement issued by Olmert's office said internal intelligence chief Yuval Diskin and special envoy Ofer Dekel would hold talks in Egypt until Sunday evening before reporting back ahead of a special cabinet meeting on Monday. "Diskin and Dekel will meet with senior Egyptian officials...they will examine whether it will be possible to facilitate the release," the statement read.
Olmert said he was making a final effort to release Shalit before Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu forms a new government, which may be as early as in the coming week. The statement added that Olmert had updated Netanyahu on events.
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