Zahar: Schalit talks frozen because of Israel

Hamas's Zahar says Israel's refusal to free convicted Palestinian murderers stalls negotiations.

Mahmoud Zahar 248.88 ap (photo credit: AP [file])
Mahmoud Zahar 248.88 ap
(photo credit: AP [file])
A senior Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip said on Wednesday that talks on exchanging kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Schalit for Palestinian prisoners had been frozen. Mahmoud Zahar said that the Egyptian-mediated negotiations had broken down because Israel wouldn't meet Hamas demands to release prisoners convicted of murdering Israelis. Zahar also said that the talks had stalled because Israel and Egypt wouldn't open their border crossings with Gaza. Both countries sealed the border after Hamas seized power in Gaza in June 2007. There was no response from Jerusalem to Zahar's comments, but the Ramon Committee is set to convene on Sunday to resume discussions on detainees to be traded for Schalit. On Tuesday, Aviva Schalit took to the airwaves and publicly apologized to her son Gilad for failing to secure his release from Gaza, where Hamas has been holding him captive for more than two years. "I'm asking him to forgive me for not securing his release after so many days and nights," she told Army Radio. "I take responsibility for this. I do not know if it is a personal failure, but we have not succeeding in getting him back," Aviva said. She also had harsh words for the government. "They didn't do enough to bring Gilad back. It's not possible that after so many days there's no progress... I don't know why that's happening." When asked if she was angry, she said she wasn't, but that more could have been done. "There's no progress at all and we're in the same spot that we were in before," Aviva Schalit said. What was worse was that "we're not seeing the light at the end of the tunnel," she said.