Israel given OK to resume Schalit deal

Saudi paper: Two Arab countries mediating exchange deal; Israel gets green light on deal by US.

October 18, 2007 13:28
Israel given OK to resume Schalit deal

Gilad Schalit 298 88. (photo credit: Courtesy)

Two Arab countries are mediating between Israel and Gilad Schalit's captors, Saudi newspaper Aukaz reported Thursday. According to the report, Israel and the US agreed in the past to freeze negotiations regarding Schalit so as to prevent Hamas from gaining popularity on the Palestinian street. Israel, the paper claimed, was willing to reopen negotiations because now the government was confident it would have the upper hand in talks, and Washington gave Israel the "green light" to do so. Hamas was demanding the release of 1,000 Palestinian prisoners, whereas Israel's agreement to release only 200 prisoners was the main impediment on the way to an exchange deal, Aukaz reported. A spokesman for Hamas's military wing, Izzadin al-Kassam Brigades, confirmed that two Arab states were mediating between the sides but did not name them. "The deal is not going through because of Israel's stubbornness," the spokesman said. "Hamas wants Israel to release its leaders, invalids, women and minors. All in all, some 1,000 Palestinian prisoners; and [Gilad Schalit's] captors would accept any party wishing to mediate between the sides."

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