Hamas says German mediator has ‘new ideas’ on Schalit

Report suggests that Hamas official says Konrad's negotiations could lead to breakthrough in deal for captive soldier's release.

January 19, 2011 02:04
2 minute read.
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schalit banners 248.88. (photo credit: AP)


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Hamas refused on Tuesday to confirm reports about a possible breakthrough in negotiations to achieve a prisoner exchange deal with Israel that would lead to the release of abducted IDF soldier Gilad Schalit.

The London-based Al-Hayat newspaper quoted a Hamas official as saying that German mediator Gerhard Konrad, who visited the Gaza Strip a few weeks ago, raised a number of “new ideas to advance the matter.”

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The official, who was not identified by name, told the paper that Hamas is waiting for Israel’s response to the new ideas.

He added that Hamas has not changed its demand for the release of all prisoners whose names appeared on a list that was delivered to Israel last year. The list consists of some 1,000 prisoners.

“Signing an agreement will be possible only when Israel displays serious intentions and sincerity,” the Hamas official said.

Hamas has no intention to hold Schalit forever, but will agree to release him only as part of an honorable prisoner exchange deal, the official said.

In response, Hamas announced that there was nothing new regarding efforts to secure a prisoner swap with Israel.

A Hamas representative in the Gaza Strip confirmed that the German mediator had met with leaders of the Islamist movement.

However, the official said it was premature to talk about a breakthrough. “The soldier will be released only when Israel accepts our demand for the release of all the prisoners whose names appeared on the list,” he explained.

In June, Israel made clear to Hamas that it would not release terrorists with “blood on their hands” back to the West Bank, but rather deport them either to Gaza or abroad, and would not release from prison a number of mega-terrorists responsible for some of the worst terrorist atrocities the country has ever known.

Mossad head Meir Dagan said in private meetings before leaving office earlier this month that not being able to either release or get information about Schalit was one of his biggest regrets as head of the intelligence agency.

He also said he opposed the release of 450 terrorists to the West Bank because it would create an “insufferable” situation.

According to Dagan, the 400 terrorists who were released in 2004 to gain the return of businessman Elhanan Tannenbaum and the bodies of three IDF soldiers are believed to have been directly or indirectly involved in killing 231 Israelis.

In addition, he said, the release of the prisoners to the West Bank would strengthen Hamas and potentially lead to the downfall of the Palestinian Authority.

Also, he said, the prisoners Hamas was seeking were arrested by IDF soldiers, some of whom were killed during operations to arrest them. There was a moral problem in releasing terrorists whom others died trying to apprehend, Dagan said.

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