Hamas optimistic over exchange deal for Schalit

Abu Marzouk: Hamas interested in reaching deal, optimism based on "internal pressure" in Israeli government, new mediators.

Gilad Schalit in video 311 (R) (photo credit: Reuters)
Gilad Schalit in video 311 (R)
(photo credit: Reuters)
A senior Hamas official said on Wednesday that his movement expects “positive developments” in efforts to achieve a prisoner swap with Israel in return for IDF soldier Gilad Schalit.
Musa Abu Marzouk, deputy head of the Damascus-based Hamas “political bureau,” said that his optimism was based on “internal pressure” on the Israeli government and changes in the makeup of the mediating team.
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Abu Marzouk’s remarks were published in the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper.
“Hamas is very interested in reaching a [prisoner exchange] deal,” Abu Marzouk said, pointing out that there was no change in Hamas’s conditions for accomplishing a deal.

Hamas, he added, continues to insist on the release of prisoners who are serving lengthy sentences, opposes the deportation of inmates to other countries, and won’t compromise on the number of prisoners it has demanded in return for Schalit.
Hamas has in the past demanded the release of some 1,000 Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails, including many who are serving multiple life sentences.
Earlier this week, the commander of Hamas’s armed wing, Mohammed al-Ja’bari, visited Cairo for talks with top Egyptian security officials on the prospects of reaching a prisoner swap agreement with Israel.
During his stay in Cairo, Ja’bari also met with Abu Marzouk and discussed the case of Schalit.