Senior Hamas official denies progress in Schalit deal

Moussa Abu Mazrouk: Cairo playing active role in formulating deal; France, Germany offered Hamas fresh incentives for releasing kidnapped soldier.

Gilad Schalit in video 311 (R) (photo credit: Reuters)
Gilad Schalit in video 311 (R)
(photo credit: Reuters)
Despite a fresh offer by France and Germany to give new incentives to Hamas to free kidnapped soldier Gilad Schalit, Deputy Head of Hamas' political bureau Moussa Abu Mazrouk dismissed claims that possible deal between the sides has made any real progress. Mazrouk, without mentioning either European country, added that Cairo is taking an active role in moving a deal forward, Israel Radio reported Monday.
The leading Hamas official, speaking from Damascus, added that the Egyptian government has taken an active role in formulating a prisoner-swap deal following the failure of a German mediator, and that a deal would include an exchange of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in Israel for the kidnapped IDF soldier.
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On Sunday, Channel 2 reported that France and Germany are offering Hamas extra incentives in addition to the release of approximately 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Schalit.
These incentives include easing restrictions on Gaza's border crossings as well as de facto recognition of the Hamas government in Gaza which would allow for European investment in the territory. France and Germany are working with Egypt on the deal, according to the report.
In a surprising move, both German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy called for Schalit's release last Friday, with Merkel saying his freedom is a "very important matter."
Schalit, a dual US-French citizen, has been in captivity since June 25, 2006.