Gilad Shalit's release: in pictures

Prisoner swap deal between Israel and Palestine gets underway.

Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier imprisoned by Hamas militants in 2006, has been handed over to Egyptian mediators after being held in Gaza for five years. He will then be transferred to the Kerem Shalom crossing between Egypt and Israel.

To secure the 25 year old's release, Israel has agreed to free more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners being held in Israel. The first 477 are being released today, with a further 550 freed at a later date.

While Shalit is undergoing medical tests before being taken back to Israel, these 477 prisoners are being driven to Israel, destined either for return to Gaza or exile abroad. Hamas is preparing a hero's welcome for the 295 prisoners returning to Gaza.

Israeli families of victims of terrorist attacks appealed to the Israeli Supreme Court to delay the swap, but the bid was rejected.

Samira Shackle is a freelance journalist, who tweets @samirashackle. She was formerly a staff writer for the New Statesman.

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Lord Sainsbury pulls funding from Progress and other political causes

The longstanding Labour donor will no longer fund party political causes. 

Centrist Labour MPs face a funding gap for their ideas after the longstanding Labour donor Lord Sainsbury announced he will stop financing party political causes.

Sainsbury, who served as a New Labour minister and also donated to the Liberal Democrats, is instead concentrating on charitable causes. 

Lord Sainsbury funded the centrist organisation Progress, dubbed the “original Blairite pressure group”, which was founded in mid Nineties and provided the intellectual underpinnings of New Labour.

The former supermarket boss is understood to still fund Policy Network, an international thinktank headed by New Labour veteran Peter Mandelson.

He has also funded the Remain campaign group Britain Stronger in Europe. The latter reinvented itself as Open Britain after the Leave vote, and has campaigned for a softer Brexit. Its supporters include former Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg and Labour's Chuka Umunna, and it now relies on grassroots funding.

Sainsbury said he wished to “hand the baton on to a new generation of donors” who supported progressive politics. 

Progress director Richard Angell said: “Progress is extremely grateful to Lord Sainsbury for the funding he has provided for over two decades. We always knew it would not last forever.”

The organisation has raised a third of its funding target from other donors, but is now appealing for financial support from Labour supporters. Its aims include “stopping a hard-left take over” of the Labour party and “renewing the ideas of the centre-left”. 

Julia Rampen is the digital news editor of the New Statesman (previously editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog). She has also been deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines. 

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