RAMALLAH, Nov. 29 (Xinhua) -- The Palestinian National Authority (PNA) Sunday denied reports that it attempted to block a prisoners exchange deal between Israel and the Islamic Hamas movement, PNA's bitter rival.
"The reports are false. They are Israeli claims aimed at covering its bids to evade the swap's obligations," Ziad Abu Ein, Palestinian deputy minister of prisoners' affairs, told Xinhua.
The reports allegedly said the PNA, led by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party, feared that such swap would increase Hamas' popularity.
An Israeli radio reported that the U.S. administration hinted to the West Bank-based PNA that the prisoner exchange will weaken it.
"The PNA, with all its officials, supports the swap and calls for completing it as soon as possible," Abu Ein added.
Under the swap, Israel would free about 1,000 Palestinian and Arab prisoners in exchange for Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier Hamas has been holding since June 2006.
Abu Ein said the PNA "is not briefed on the progress of the swap and its negotiations." Germany and Egypt mediate the indirect talks between Hamas and Israel among strict levels of secrecy.
Among the nearly 1,000 prisoners, Hamas has submitted a list of 450 detainees and demanded Israel to release them though the Jewish state considers them as a threat to its security.
Special Report: Palestine-Israel Conflicts