Hamas will today welcome a German mediator with Israel’s proposals for a long-mooted prisoner exchange.
Hamas is holding kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in Gaza, and is ready to swap him for an as-yet undecided number of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu needed a marathon sitting of his government to agree to the initiative, as Hamas’s demands for a thousand releases appear over-ambitious.
However Shalit has become an Israeli figurehead in the three and a half years since his capture and the Israelis have promised they will do whatever it takes to get him home.
But will that mean paying Hamas’s price? Hamas appears content to hold onto Shalit and get the maximum bargaining value from him rather than go for a quick release for the Palestinian prisoners they want.