oCT. 12 - Hamas rulers and Israeli cabinet members agree to exchange prisoners, 1000 Palestinians for one Israeli. Julie Noce reports.
Celebrations on both sides of the divide in the Middle East - Palestinians gather in Gaza City to cheer an historic deal between Hamas and Israel to release 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit who has been held captive since 2006. Officials say the first round of approximately 450 Palestinians are set for release in the coming weeks. In Jerusalem, Shalit's parents celebrated the news with supporters in the tent outside the Israeli Prime Minister's house where they have been living for over a year . (SOUNDBITE) (Hebrew) NOAM SHALIT, FATHER OF ABDUCTED ISRAELI SOLIDER GILAD SHALIT, SAYING: "It is a symbolic day, sadness mixed with happiness, its a symbolic day in which the Israeli government succeeded after more than five years, 1935 hard days, and 1935 long nights to bring Gilad, our son, home. Today, we want to support and congratulate the prime minister on the courageous decision." Although the deal won overwhelming support in the Israeli cabinet, some objected to the deal. Critics say it sends the wrong message. (SOUNDBITE) (English) ISRAELI MINISTER FOR NATIONAL INFRASTRUCTURE UZI LANDAU, SAYING: "I voted against this agreement, I think that voting for such an agreement would be a tremendous encouragement for future terror. In the Middle East it will be perceived as a move that simply says terror pays off." Palestinian President Mahoud Abbas, who is in Venezuela for meetings with Hugo Chavez, told reporters he's satisfied with the deal. (SOUNDBITE)(Arabic)(BASED ON SPANISH TRANSLATION OF ARABIC) PRESIDENT MAHMOUD ABBAS SAYING: "We have worked arduously for a long time to put an end to this and to reach this conclusion. The Israeli soldier will finally be able to return to his family in exchange for 1,000 Palestinian prisoners who will also finally return to their families and this is something that gives us great satisfaction." Although being touted as a "breakthrough" agreement, officials from both sides say it has no direct bearing on stalled Middle East peace negotiations. Julie Noce, Reuters