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Report: Israel to free 65 Egyptians for Tarabin (JERUSALEM POST) By OREN KESSLER 05/10/12)Source: http://www.jpost.com/DiplomacyAndPolitics/Article.aspx?id=269355 JERUSALEM POST JERUSALEM POST Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
Jerusalem and Cairo are involved in intensive negotiations to secure the release of Ouda Tarabin, the Israeli Beduin jailed in Egypt for over a decade for espionage, Egyptian media reported Wednesday.

Egyptís state-run Al-Ahram newspaper reported that Tarabin and several other Israelis convicted of spying would be exchanged for 65 Egyptians held in Israeli jails.

The daily reported that Egyptian authorities have also been in contact with their Israeli counterparts in order to ascertain the conditions of Egyptian prisoners who last month joined hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in an indefinite hunger strike.

Tarabin, 31, has been held in Egypt since 1999, when he was sentenced in absentia under the countryís Emergency Law to 15 years in prison for espionage.

The Tarabin Beduin are a large tribe spread across the Negev and Sinai. In the Negev, the Tarabinsí territory is concentrated around Beersheba, while in Sinai, their lands are situated along the Israeli border south of the resort of El- Arish as well as on the Gulf of Suez and on the Red Sea around Nuweiba.

Since the mid-1990s the tribe has been heavily involved in smuggling, both across the Egypt-Israel border and to the Gaza Strip. Still, the Israeli government and Tarabinís family have rejected accusations of espionage as baseless, and the prisonerís brother maintains he had crossed into Egypt merely to visit their sister in El-Arish.

Speculation over Tarabinís release began during last yearís US- mediated Egyptian-Israeli negotiations for the release of Ilan Grapel, an Israeli-American law student held for nearly five months on charges of spying for Israel. Grapel was freed last October year in exchange for 25 Egyptian security prisoners.

At the time, Druse MK Ayoub Kara (Likud) unsuccessfully lobbied US Ambassador Daniel Shapiro to include Tarabin in the deal.

In 1996 Azzam Azzam, an Israeli Druse textile worker, was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor after being convicted of espionage, a charge both he and the Israeli government firmly denied. Following the intervention of the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), Azzam was released in 2004 in exchange for six Egyptians convicted of planning terror attacks. Tarabin now occupies the same cell in a Cairo jail where Azzam was once held. (© 1995-2011, The Jerusalem Post 05/10/12)

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