Report: Progress Achieved in Negotiations Between Israel, Hizbullah on Exchange Deal of Prisoners
The Lebanese newspaper A-Nahar Sunday reported progress in contacts between Israel and Lebanese Resistance party Hizbullah, and said they are negotiating a deal under which the Lebanese group would exchange a videotape of captured Brigadier General (res.) Elhanan Tannenbaum, in exchange for detailed maps of minefields in southern Lebanon.
The tape of Tannenbaum, whom Hizbullah maintains he is a Mossad officer, said the Lebanese daily, would prove to Israel he is in good condition. The Arabic newspaper wrote that Israel has recently handed Lebanese authorities some maps of minefields, indicating an important breakthrough in contacts between the two sides. Israel will release the remainder of the maps only in exchange for information on the fate of the three kidnapped soldiers.
A-Nahar added a high-ranking German intermediary has held 17 meetings with the Hizbullah leader since the three Israeli soldiers were taken in October 2000. In addition, Hizbullah is demanding the release of Lebanese prisoners being held in Israel, among them Abd al-Karim Obeid and Mustafa Dirani, in addition to some 2,000 Palestinians, belonging to various branches of the armed resistance.
Last week, the Lebanese A-Safir daily reported that the German-led negotiations between Hizbullah and Israel on a prisoners exchange deal were facing big obstacles. According to that report, Israel is offering a price that the Lebanese party does not accept for information about the three soldiers and Tannenbaum.
In addition, the former Israeli government under Ehud Baraq had accepted negotiations over a full package and agreed in principle to Hizbullah's demand that non-Lebanese prisoners, especially Arabs and a big number of Palestinians, be released. But the file was put on hold when Sharon came to power.
The German mediator has recently told Hizbullah that Israel was ready to release some 150 prisoners, including the Lebanese, but that it wanted to keep either Obeid and Dirani until the fate of Israeli pilot Ron Arad is revealed. (Albawaba.com)
© 2002 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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