‘Post’ columnist held secret talks with Hamas on Schalit

Gershon Baskin served as a secret mediator between Israel and Hamas, reporting back to Israeli official David Meidan in Schalit talks.

By JERUSALEM POST STAFF
October 14, 2011 01:30
1 minute read.
Gershon Baskin

Gershon Baskin 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)

Gershon Baskin, a Jerusalem Post columnist and founder of the Israel- Palestine Center for Research and Information, revealed on Wednesday that he conducted back-channel negotiations with Hamas’s Ghazi Hamad on a prisoner exchange.

Baskin served as a secret mediator between Israel and Hamas, reporting back to Israeli official David Meidan.

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He said he came to view Hamad as “a person who I trust and who trusts me and someone who is the new face of Hamas willing to work for peace with Israelis.”

Baskin said he and Hamad exchanged numerous emails, but did not negotiate on actual details.

“It was more about the principles of negotiations, the issues that had to be negotiated. And in the end, the breakthrough was when we produced a document in which Hamas, for the first time, indicated what it would take to close a deal,” Baskin said.

“The real hero is David Meidan, the special representative of Netanyahu who was willing to take risks, break the rules and understood the passion and commitment that I brought to the table,” Baskin wrote in an e-mail. “The other real hero is Dr. Ghazi Hamad from Hamas who has been working with me for five years to secure the release of Gilad."

“And, of course, my good friend the Egyptian mediator who I've known for years and succeeded where all others had failed."

“And lastly, I must say that nothing would have happened without Binyamin Netanyahu deciding that it was time to bring Gilad home, even though he was in principle opposed to the deal – he broke his own principles in favor of humanism and compassion,” Baskin wrote.

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