'New European mediator involved in Schalit swap talks'

Hamas official praises new middleman, criticizes Konrad for moving towards Netanyahu's positions on deal, 'Al-Ahram' reports.

April 19, 2011 21:16
1 minute read.
Captured soldier Gilad Schalit in video

Gilad Schalit in video 311 (R). (photo credit: Reuters)

A new European mediator is handling negotiations between Jerusalem and Hamas towards a prisoner exchange that would see the release of kidnapped soldier Gilad Schalit, the English-language version of Egypt's Al-Ahram newspaper reported on Tuesday.

The newspaper's source in Hamas declined to disclose which European country was handling the negotiations, but praised what they called his or her "sincerity and inventiveness."

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The source also criticized previous mediator, Gerhard Konrad, saying that the Hamas leadership was upset by the perception that he had moved closer to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's positions, instead of changing them.

According to the report, the deal that Netanyahu put on the table would have excluded a large number of Palestinian prisoners from release, which Hamas rejected.

On Monday, Gaza-based Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahar said that Schalit would only be released on Hamas' terms.

Zahar warned that "the occupation must understand that all its attempts over the last five years have failed even when faced with the patience of Hamas and the Palestinian people."

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Sunday appointed David Meidan to replace Hagai Hadas in efforts to broker a deal with Hamas and gain the release of Schalit, who has been held in Gaza for almost five years.

Meidan has held a senior position in the Mossad and has already been involved in efforts to secure Schalit’s release. He was chosen out of a number of candidates.

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