European diplomatic sources said Thursday that kidnapped Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit will be transferred to Egypt in the coming hours or coming days.
According to the European sources, Shalit’s transfer is the first stage of an agreement between the various Palestinian factions, assisted by Egyptian mediation and done in coordination with the United States and with the support of Syria.
Shalit will be used as a “deposit” toward the completion of a prisoner exchange between the Palestinian factions.
The deal will include the exchange of prisoners and the opening of crossings between Israel and the Gaza Strip.
According to Egyptian officials, an agreement will be signed between Fatah, Hamas and other Palestinian factions by July 7 at the latest.
The deal would put the Gaza Strip under the leadership of a joint committee subordinate to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, and not under the control of the government of Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.
On Tuesday Palestinian news agency Maan quoted Egyptian sources as saying that Shalit was about to be transferred from the Gaza Strip into Egypt within hours, a report that Israeli sources denied.
Shalit was kidnapped in a cross-border raid by Gaza militants on June 25, 2006, exactly three years ago.