'Zahar: I quit negotiating team'

Hamas leader to Der Spiegel: Israel backed out of Schalit deal understandings.

February 28, 2010 11:57
1 minute read.
Mahmoud Zahar

mahmoud zahar 311. (photo credit: AP)


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Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar over the weekend told Der Spiegel that he has quit the team negotiating with Israel on a prisoner exchange deal to secure the release of captive IDF soldier Gilad Schalit.

The senior Hamas official told the German paper that he had reached the decision after Israel backed out of commitments reached in the talks.

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"When [Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu presented the deal to the cabinet I was put under enormous pressure in my organization, and I am no longer willing to play the Israelis' childish games," Zahar claimed.

Last week, a senior Hamas official blamed the US for undermining the negotiations on Schalit’s release.

The Hamas man told Al-Arabiya TV on Monday that Israel and Hamas had reached an agreement, according to which Israel would release 1,000 security prisoners, including those “with blood on their hands,” but that American pressure prevented its implementation.

“They asked Israel to withdraw its latest proposal on the Schalit deal. The deal would have been implemented if not for the American intervention,” the Hamas official reportedly said.

In related news, Zahar on Sunday criticized Arab nations and claimed they were exploiting the rift between Hamas and Fatah for their own interests.

"The Arabs are behaving as if the Palestinian issue is of no interest to them... The Arab states have no real interest to end the disagreement within the Palestinian camp," the Hamas leader told the London-based Asharq Al-Awsat.

Zahar went on to accuse some Arab nations of "wanting to use the Palestinians for their own internal conflicts more than they are interested in reconciling [the Palestinians]."

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