'Hamas armed wing rejects 1,000-prisoner Schalit deal'

German gov't sources say Hamas' political wing approved deal, Izzadin Kassam Brigades vetoed; Merkel, Sarkozy urge progress on Schalit.

By REUTERS
June 18, 2011 00:46
1 minute read.
Chancellor Merkel and French President Sarkozy

German Chancellor Merkel and French President Sarkozy 311 (R. (photo credit: REUTERS)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Friday called for the release of captive IDF soldier Gilad Schalit.

Merkel, speaking at a joint appearance with the French president called Schalit's release "a very important matter," ahead of the fifth anniversary of the IDF soldier's kidnapping by Hamas terrorists.

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According to German government sources, there is a deal on the table in which Israel would release approximately 1,000 prisoners in exchange for Schalit. The deal was rejected by Hamas' armed wing, the Izzadin Kassam Brigades, despite approval by the groups political wing, according to German officials.

For France, the Schalit case is particularly sensitive because the captive soldier holds dual Israeli-French citizenship. French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe met with Schalit's parents, Noam and Aviva in Jerusalem during a visit to Jerusalem earlier this month.

Germany has mediated attempts to reach a deal between Hamas and Israel for several years.

Earlier in June, Noam and Aviva Schalit appealed to the French judicial system to hold Hamas, including its Damascus-based leader Khaled Mashaal, responsible for kidnapping their son Gilad and keeping him hostage in Gaza for the past five years.

If their legal effort in France is successful, arrest warrants could be issued against members of Hamas, including Mashaal. A suit can be filed in France due to Schalit's dual citizenship.

French law is applicable to anyone who is a French citizen, even if the criminal act against him occurred outside of France, explained an attorney for the Schalit family in Israel, Nick Kaufman.

JPost.com staff, Tovah Lazaroff and Ron Friedman contributed to this report


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