Hamas negotiator: We won’t continue talking to Israel

Razi Hamed brushes off warnings that Iran could scuttle Schalit deal; deal became possible when Israel realized there was no military option.

By MICHAEL OMER-MAN
October 15, 2011 23:44
2 minute read.
Hamas Deputy Foreign Minister Razi Hamed

Hamas Deputy Foreign Minister Razi Hamed 311. (photo credit: Channel 10)

 
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Despite successful negotiations to release over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners and a much-stated resolve to “release the rest of our prisoners,” Hamas is not interested in holding any further direct talks with Israel, the group’s deputy foreign minister said in an interview with Channel 10, aired Saturday.

Previous contacts were held because “we were willing to deal with problems,” Razi Hamed explained in accented, but fluent Hebrew. “Problems of prisoners, problems of cease-fires... but there are no direct contacts between Israel and Hamas.”

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The Gaza-based group, he said, “opposes direct negotiations with Israel.”

Hamed began holding back-channel contacts with the Israel-Palestine Center for Research and Information (IPCRI) co-founder and The Jerusalem Post columnist Gershon Baskin in July of this year, as part of an attempt to resolve the five-year-old case of Gilad Schalit.

It was only when those contacts were initiated four months ago, Hamed said, that “I knew that it was possible to reach a deal.”

The progress came about, he explained, because “Israel was in a place that it understood – and said clearly,” that there was no military option to release Schalit. “Even the Shin Bet [Israel Security Agency] said so.”



But while the Hamas figure asserted that all Palestinian factions are satisfied with the deal and declared it “a victory for the Palestinian people,” he added that Hamas will continue its attempts to free all Palestinian prisoners from Israeli prisons.

Unlike other Hamas figures in recent days, however, Hamed repeatedly sidestepped saying that the group would either resort to, or refrain from, carrying out additional kidnappings to release Palestinian prisoners.

Asked point blank whether the group would do so, he answered, “I didn’t say that.”

The Hamas official also brushed off doubts expressed by German intelligence officials over the weekend about the possibility that Iran may attempt to torpedo the prisoner-exchange deal.

“Today there is an agreement, a signed agreement,” he said. “There’s no problem and I think that everything will be OK. Inshallah, I hope that within a few days the whole thing will be over.”

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