The Palestinian Maan news agency reported Thursday that the United States has agreed to sell Egypt several F-16 fighter jets in order to facilitate the release of Israeli-American Ilan Grapel. Israel had opposed similar sales in the past.
Grapel, who was arrested in June on espionage charges, is slated to be released later on Thursday. Israel will release 25 Egyptian prisoners in return.
According to the Ma'an report, Israeli Bedouin Ouda Tarabin - imprisoned in Egypt for a decade - was a large factor in the Grapel negotiations.
Originally, there were reports that Israel would trade all 81 Egyptian prisoners but Isrsel told Egypt that Grapel simply was not that important to them - but Tarabin was.
Under the previous Egyptian regime, Mubarak refused to deal Tarabin, claiming that Egyptians would rise up against him if he would.
Israel had been opposed to the F-16 deal for security reasons, and as part of this deal Israel is dropping its objections. In addition, the report says that Israel will also drop its Camp David demands of a limited Egyptian army presence in the Sinai. Israel's apology to Egypt for the deaths of several Egyptian soldiers during a terror attack in August also came into play in this deal, according to the report.
What this all comes down to is that Grapel, and Tarabin, are not prisoners. They are hostages. And while the price is not as high as in the Shalit deal, Israel is rewarding Egypt for acting like a terrorist group. (I cannot say that the US is doing the same, as it appears that America wanted to sell the F-16s to Egypt for a while and it was Israeli opposition that stopped it.)
It would be the height of folly for anyone with Israeli citizenship, or even for Jews with Israeli relatives, to visit Egypt.
(Palestine Today says that the deal involves F-16s "and other weapons.")