Israel and Egypt have begun preparations for a prisoner exchange in which Egypt will free a US-Israeli man held on spying suspicion, in return for more than two dozen Egyptians held in Israel on smuggling and immigration charges.
The exchange is expected to occur on Thursday afternoon, with Israel transferring 25 Egyptians to Sinai via the Taba border crossing, as Ilan Grapel is flown to Tel Aviv.
Grapel, 27, was detained in Egypt in June on accusations he was out to recruit agents and monitor events in the revolt that toppled Hosni Mubarak, who was an ally of Israel and the US.
Israel, whose relations with Egypt have been strained since the uprising, has denied that Grapel was involved in espionage.
The exchange deal, reportedly mediated by the US, was reached shortly after a successful Egyptian-negotiated swap between Israel and Hamas that freed Gilad Shalit, a captive Israeli soldier, in exchange for more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners.