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Israel passes ball of prisoner exchange deal back to Hamas

On the back of the coronavirus crisis, Israel is now examining a three-phased plan proposed indirectly by Hamas for the exchange of prisoners.
KHAN YUNIS, GAZA - MARCH 30: Leader of Hamas in the Gaza Strip Yahya Sinwar greets Palestinians during a protest within the "Great March of Return" and "Palestinian Land Day" demonstrations at Israel-Gaza border in Khan Yunis, Gaza on March 30, 2019. (Photo by Abed Zagout/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

An unusual statement from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office on April 7 said that Coordinator for Captives and Missing Persons Yaron Blum and his team are “committed to acting constructively with the aim of bringing back the soldiers’ bodies and missing civilians and putting an end to the issue," adding that the premier was calling “for immediate dialogue between mediators” to facilitate a deal with Hamas.

What made this statement so extraordinary is that it was issued so publicly. In most cases, calls for talks of this sort are made clandestinely, through middlemen. This was not just intended to save time, even if Egypt, which normally acts as mediator, is busy dealing with its own coronavirus crisis. It was also intended to send a direct message to a different target audience.

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