German negotiator too hard-lined for Hamas

Palestinian groups in Gaza demand that Red Cross chief leave the strip over calls for Schalit visit; Palestinian rights group under fire.

June 27, 2011 18:36
3 minute read.
Hamas leaders Khaled Meshaal, Moussa Abu Marzouk

Hamas leaders Khaled Meshaal and Moussa Abu Marzouk 311 (R). (photo credit: Khaled Al Hariri / Reuters)


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Hamas confirmed on Monday that it had rejected an offer made by a German negotiator to reach a prisoner swap agreement with Israel.

Musa Abu Marzouk, deputy head of the Hamas “political bureau,” described the offer as “unjust.” He told the London- based Al-Hayat newspaper that the German mediator had “endorsed the unfair and unjust positions of the Zionist government.”


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Abu Marzouk said in the article that Hamas was not surprised by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s “intransigence.” But, he added, it was unacceptable for the German mediator to endorse these positions.

The Hamas official said his movement would no longer talk with the mediator because he has failed in his mission. “We were expecting him to present moderate, and not hard line, positions,” Abu Marzouk added.

“Instead of pressuring the Zionist government to soften its conditions, he actually endorsed them.”

He stressed that Hamas was interested in achieving a deal that would secure the release of IDF soldier Gilad Schalit, but “only in the frame of a national and dignified deal.”

In a related development, a Palestinian human rights group that condemned Hamas’s treatment of Schalit has come under sharp attack.

The Gaza-based Palestinian Center for Human Rights was one of several human rights organizations that called on Hamas to end the illegal treatment of Schalit.

“Hamas authorities must immediately end the cruel and inhuman treatment of Gilad Schalit, enable him to communicate with his family and grant him access to the International Committee of the Red Cross,” the groups said in a statement.

The statement was signed by Amnesty International, B’Tselem, Bimkom – Planners for Planning Rights, Gisha: Legal Center for Freedom of Movement, Human Rights Watch, Public Committee Against Torture, Physicians for Human Rights, Palestinian Center for Human Rights (Gaza), The Association for Civil Rights in Israel, Yesh Din: Volunteers for Human Rights and the International Federation for Human Rights.

Hamdi Shaqoura, one of the directors of the Palestinian human rights group, said his center was facing an irrational and unjustified attack.

The Hamas government and several armed factions in the Gaza Strip strongly condemned the Palestinian center for signing on to the statement together with Israeli and international groups.

Abu Obaida, spokesman for Izaddin al-Kassam, the armed wing of Hamas, described the Palestinian group as “suspicious and Zionist” because it ignores the plight of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.

“The participation of a Palestinian group in this statement is an immoral and unpatriotic act,” he said.

Hamas and several Palestinian factions are demanding that the director of the International Committee of the Red Cross Gaza Strip leave under the pretext that he’s biased in favor of Israel.

The factions are furious with the Red Cross because of statements it made recently concerning Schalit, who was kidnapped five years ago and is being held in the Gaza Strip.

The Red Cross said earlier this week that Schalit’s family had the right to visit him and demanded that Hamas provide evidence that the soldier is still alive.

“Because there has been no sign of life from Mr. Schalit for almost two years, the ICRC is now demanding that Hamas prove that he’s alive,” the ICRC said. The organization also reiterated its demand to visit Schalit in custody.

Palestinians on Monday demonstrated in front of the ICRC offices in Gaza City in protest against the organization’s position on Schalit.

The demonstrators demanded that the director of ICRC be removed from his post and leave the Gaza Strip.

Hamas spokesman Ismail Radwan accused the ICRC of being biased in favor of Israel and ignoring the fact that thousands of Palestinians are being held in Israeli prisons.

“Where is the international law and democracy that the head of the Red Cross is talking about?” he asked. “We are demanding that he go away.”

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