Hezbollah and Israel have signed a U.N.-mediated prisoner exchange deal and the date for the swap will be settled this week, a Lebanese political source said on Monday.
The source said Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had both signed the deal under which the Jewish state will release five Lebanese prisoners and Hezbollah will hand over two Israeli soldiers.
Hezbollah seized the soldiers, Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev. Hezbollah has given no word on their condition, although they are widely presumed dead.
The Lebanese source said he expected the exchange to take place by the middle of next week.
"We expect the deal to move ahead, and it is possible we will have Regev and Goldwasser back in Israel next week," a senior Israeli government official in Jerusalem said.
Under the deal, which was negotiated by a German intelligence officer, Israel will also hand over the bodies of around 200 Arabs in northern Israel while Hezbollah would return body parts of Israeli soldiers killed in south Lebanon in 2006.
The dead include Palestinian and Lebanese fighters killed in decades of resistance against Israel occupation and the bodies of eight Hezbollah fighters. An Israeli military official said Israel would begin exhuming bodies on Monday.
The Lebanese prisoners include Samir Qantar.
Nasrallah said last week he expected the exchange to take place around the middle of the month.
Last Mod: 08 Temmuz 2008, 08:59