Israeli minister suggests prisoner swap

Sept. 25, 2007 at 7:41 AM
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JERUSALEM, Sept. 25 (UPI) -- An Israeli Cabinet minister suggested Tuesday swapping a jailed Palestinian militant for an Israeli soldier kidnapped 15 months ago.

In an interview on Army Radio, National Infrastructures Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer said 21-year-old Cpl. Gilad Shalit could be freed if Israel offered militant Marwan Barghouti in exchange, the Jerusalem Post reported.

"We need to break the cycle," Ben-Eliezer said. "Freeing Barghouti could start a process that would succeed in both moving the diplomatic negotiations forward and in freeing Shalit."

In April, the Post reported senior Palestinian officials were opposed to Barghouti's release, as his image remained high as a captive and his release should be just in time to run him as a Fatah party candidate in elections.

Shalit was 19 when he was abducted near the Gaza Strip border by Hamas militants on June 25, 2006.

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