Hamas, Fatah agree to swap prisoners

Hamas, Fatah agree to swap prisoners

GAZA CITY - Agence France-Presse
Hamas, Fatah agree to swap prisoners

Hamas supporters hold pictures of relatives who were arrested and imprisoned by Palestinian Authority security forces, during a protest in the West Bank. AFP photo

The two main Palestinian factions, Hamas and Fatah, have agreed on a prisoner swap, an official involved in ongoing reconciliation talks said Jan. 7.

The agreement calls for both sides to present before Jan. 15 a list of political prisoners it wants released, said Khaled al-Batch, a leader from Islamic Jihad. Batch is coordinator of the “committee of general freedom” in the unity talks between long-time rivals Hamas and Fatah. It was also agreed that newspapers produced in the Fatah-controlled West Bank will be allowed into the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip “and vice versa,” Batch said after a meeting between the two camps. The deal also calls for “the settling of the question of passports,” Batch said.

The Ramallah-based West Bank interior ministry will be allowed to issue passports to Hamas loyalists, which had been blocked for years, Batch said. Since 2007, the Palestinian territories have been politically divided into two, with Fatah largely ruling the West Bank and Hamas governing Gaza. In April, following years of bitter rivalry, the two factions signed a reconciliation deal whose implementation has since stalled.



Israel said Jan. 7 the online publication of thousands of its citizens’ credit card details by a hacker who says he is based in Saudi Arabia was comparable to terrorism, and promised to hit back. The data theft, which appeared to focus on commercial websites, was one of the worst Israel has said it has faced. Such cyber-attacks are “a breach of sovereignty comparable to a terrorist operation, and must be treated as such”, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said in a speech.