Mahmoud al-Zahar smirking (R) 311.
(photo credit: Reuters)
Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar on Sunday claimed that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas would not have been able to bring about the release of Palestinian prisoners that Hamas was able to achieve as part of the deal to free Gilad Schalit.
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"Abu Mazen [Abbas] was negotiating a million years and has not achieved such a deal, and he demanded that they [the prisoners] be released without offering anything in return," Zahar said during an interview with Army Radio.
The Hamas leader called on the Israeli government to release all Palestinian
prisoners gradually "to prevent the need for such transactions in
"This is not a comprehensive deal," Zahar explained. "We don't have ten soldiers or ten prisoners that we can negotiate with in order to bring about the release all [the Palestinian] prisoners."
During the interview, Zahar rejected criticism that Hamas did not receive the results that they ultimately wanted in terms of how many prisoners will be released as part of the deal.
Despite successful negotiations to release over 1,000 Palestinian 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
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.”
The Gaza-based group, he said, “opposes direct
negotiations with Israel.”
Hamed began holding back-channel contacts
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.”Michael Omer-Man contributed to this report.