The kidnapers of three Americans and an Indian are involved in secret negotiations with Israel after putting off plans to kill the four educators at midnight Monday, Beirut radio stations said today.
The Christian-run Voice of Lebanon and the Muslim Voice of the Nation reported that under the proposed deal, Israel would free 400 Arab prisoners in return for the release of the four hostages and a captured Israeli airman.
Political sources in Beirut said the kidnapers, Islamic Jihad for the Liberation of Palestine, prepared a list of at least 310 Lebanese and about 90 Palestinians and forwarded it to International Red Cross officials.
They said it included three Palestinians sentenced to life imprisonment for a grenade attack near Jerusalem's Western Wall last October.
The Lebanese prisoners are mostly Shia Muslims held as guerrilla suspects at Atlit and Khiam inside Israel's self-declared security zone in south Lebanon, the sources said.
The radio stations said their information that a "hush-hush deal with Israel" was under way came from "reports from Washington and other capitals."
In Tel Aviv and in Washington today, officials denied Israel was involved in negotiations.
The Beirut radio stations said the four hostages would be part of a deal to swap the Israeli airman, who was captured Oct. 16 when his fighter-bomber was shot down by Shia Amal militiamen, for the Arab prisoners.
Execution reprieve, Page 4.