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Israel Says Egypt to Free Grapel in Swap for 25 Prisoners

October 24, 2011

(Updates with Egyptian Cabinet statement in second paragraph, spokesman in fifth paragraph.)

Oct. 24 (Bloomberg) -- Israel said that Egypt has agreed to free Ilan Grapel, a dual U.S.-Israeli citizen who was arrested in June and accused of being a spy, in exchange for the release of 25 Egyptian prisoners from Israeli jails.

The exchange must be approved by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Security Cabinet, which will meet to review the agreement tomorrow, the prime minister’s office said in a text message to reporters. An Oct. 20 Egyptian Cabinet statement said the government was willing to exchange Grapel to free the prisoners in Israel.

“In the framework of efforts by Israel and Egypt, with assistance from the U.S., Egypt has agreed to free Ilan Grapel,” the text message said. “At Egypt’s request, Israel agreed to release 25 Egyptian prisoners, among them three juveniles.”

Grapel, a 27-year-old New Yorker who served in the Israeli army, was arrested June 12 in Egypt and accused of being an agent of the Mossad spy agency, which Israel denied. The agreement comes a week after Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was released from more than five years in captivity by the Hamas movement in exchange for 1,027 Palestinian prisoners.

Egyptian Cabinet spokesman Mohamed Hegazy declined to confirm the Israeli announcement, saying in a phone interview he had no information beyond the Oct. 20 statement.

--With assistance from Mariam Fam in Cairo. Editors: Fergal O’Brien, Simone Meier

To contact the reporter on this story: Jonathan Ferziger in Tel Aviv at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at

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