Housing Minister Zeev Elkin says the government is not prepared to free thousands of Palestinian prisoners to get back Israeli captives held in Gaza.
“There won’t be a release of thousands of prisoners in return for the captives and the missing,” Elkin tells the Kan public broadcaster, amid reports that there was a chance to forge a deal in the wake of the ceasefire agreement.
The Hamas terror group holds two living Israelis — Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed — as well as the bodies of two Israeli soldiers: Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin.
Israel and Hamas have held indirect talks in an attempt to reach a prisoner exchange deal. A similar deal in 2011 to release Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit from Hamas’s clutches saw 1,027 Palestinian security prisoners released, many of them convicted terrorists.
However, Elkin says that “there are constant efforts to move the negotiations forward.