Russia Advancing Deal With Israel to Free Druze Prisoner Who Spied for Syria, Palestinian Sources Say

Russia is in contact with Israel to promote the release of a Druze security prisoner from Israeli jail, sources in the Palestinian Prisoners' Club told Haaretz on Thursday.

The relatives of the prisoner in question, Suadki Al-Maqt of the northern Druze town of Majdal Shams, have said that Israel has made it clear that it is willing to release him if he moves to Damascus and doesn't return to his home in the Golan Heights.

Both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's bureau and the Shin Bet security service have clarified that they were not willing to comment on the case.

Al-Maqt is currently serving his 14-year prison sentence, which he received in 2017 for committing security-related crimes. At the time, he had been charged with spying and having contact with a foreign agent.

Sources familiar with Russian and Syrian efforts to release him have told Haaretz that the Russian military attaché met with Al-Maqt in prison on Thursday, and presented him with a proposed deal to free him.

The Russian attaché is said to have emphasized to Al-Maqt that Syrian President Bashar Assad and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, are familiar with his case, and that Damascus is willing to take him in.

According to the sources, Al-Maqt was told that the decision as to whether to move to Syria was up to him. His family members in Majdal Shams say that they have heard of the developments over the past couple of days, and that Al-Maqt is demanding that he be released to his home in the Golan Heights.