Aboul Gheit 298.
(photo credit: AP [file])
Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit said on Monday that Israel had offered to release up to 1,000 prisoners in exchange for captured soldier Cpl. Gilad Shalit, but Hamas had turned down the proposal.
"[There was] a deal that could have freed 900 to 1,000 prisoners, but sadly they have decided to keep holding him," he told Al-Arabiyeh Television.
Egypt has been mediating between Israel and Hamas over the release of Shalit, who was abducted at Kerem Shalom on the Gaza border on June 25.
Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz told Israel Radio on Sunday that the IDF might step up military operations in the Gaza Strip, to put pressure on Hamas to release Shalit and halt the firing of rockets at Israel.
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Sunday discussed the situation in the Middle East including the increased strife among Palestinians during a visit of Jordanian King Abdullah II to Cairo.
Mubarak's spokesman, Suleiman Awad, said after the meeting that the talks concentrated on the situation in the Palestinian territories, which has seen increasing internal violence between the ruling Hamas and Fatah.
"Mubarak expressed regret for Sunday's clashes in Gaza between the ruling Hamas movement and groups loyal to President Mahmoud Abbas that left at least seven people dead," Awad said, according to the Egypt's Middle East News Agency.
"Internal Palestinian fighting is a red line that should never be crossed," Awad quoted Mubarak as saying.
Abdullah, who arrived in the afternoon, left Cairo after he and Mubarak had iftar, the sunset meal that breaks the daylight fast of Muslims during Ramadan.
Egypt's state-owned Al-Ahram daily newspaper reported on Friday that unnamed Arab diplomats in Cairo said Washington was trying to persuade moderate Arab states to put more pressure on Hamas to work with Abbas to resume peace talks with Israel. The Islamic group Hamas dominates the Palestinian cabinet and holds a majority in the legislature.
Abdullah's visit came two days before US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is scheduled to arrive in Egypt where she is expected to meet eight Arab foreign ministers in an effort to revive stalled Mideast peace talks.