'Schalit talks stopped in Cairo, postponed indefinitely'

'Al Hayat': Egypt requests third round of indirect talks between Hamas and Israel, scheduled for next week, to be commenced at later date.

By JPOST.COM STAFF,
August 18, 2011 08:54
2 minute read.
Gilad Schalit

Gilad Schalit 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)

 
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The indirect talks brokered by Egypt between Hamas and Israel over reaching a prisoner-swap deal to secure the release of IDF soldier Gilad Schalit have been postponed indefinitely, London-based Arabic language newspaper Al Hayat reported Thursday. The report noted that the third round of indirect talks were scheduled for this coming week, but the Egyptian mediators requested that both parties delay the talks for a later date.

According to Al Hayat, Egypt will work in the coming weeks to formulate a compromise between the parties that would allow for a completion of the deal.

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An "Egyptian source" told the newspaper that the Palestinian delegation, led by Hamas's political bureau chief Khaled Mashaal, who was in Cairo at the time of the talks, seemed confident about the Schalit deal, and said that Hamas supported its completion and implementation.

According to the source, Hamas felt the talks in Cairo were used mostly to determine the broad aspects of the deal, and "had not dealt with specific details." He said that Hamas had set "wide guidelines and assigned tasked a specific group with carrying out negotiations."


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Rumors about the talks had been circulating this last week, and were mostly based on secondary sources and news reports.

In a rare occurrence, Defense Minister Ehud Barak confirmed Tuesday there was a kernel of truth to the rumors of renewed talks in Egypt for Schalit's release, as Mashaal arrived in Cairo from Syria.

Israeli media further speculated Israel has reduced the number of security prisoners to be exiled from the area after their release.

“I don’t want to say anything [about Schalit] because I don’t think it helps,” Barak said in an interview with Tel Aviv Nonstop Radio on Tuesday.

But when asked specifically about Mashaal’s arrival in Cairo and increased Israeli flexibility in the deal, Barak said, “There is a grain of truth in the rumors."

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In past talks Hamas demanded the release of 1,000 prisoners, including 450 that it named.

The list includes prisoners responsible for terror attacks against Israel.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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