Zahar: Abbas hasn't been able to free as many prisoners

Hamas leader slams PA president, says Israel should release all Palestinian prisoners to prevent need for Schalit-like deals in future.

Mahmoud al-Zahar smirking  (R) 311 (photo credit: Reuters)
Mahmoud al-Zahar smirking (R) 311
(photo credit: Reuters)
Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar on Sunday claimed that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas would not have been able to bring about the release of Palestinian prisoners that Hamas was able to achieve as part of the deal to free Gilad Schalit.
"Abu Mazen [Abbas] was negotiating a million years and has not achieved such a deal, and he demanded that they [the prisoners] be released without offering anything in return," Zahar said during an interview with Army Radio.
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The Hamas leader called on the Israeli government to release all Palestinian prisoners gradually "to prevent the need for such transactions in future."
"This is not a comprehensive deal," Zahar explained. "We don't have ten soldiers or ten prisoners that we can negotiate with in order to bring about the release all [the Palestinian] prisoners."
During the interview, Zahar rejected criticism that Hamas did not receive the results that they ultimately wanted in terms of how many prisoners will be released as part of the deal. 
Despite successful negotiations to release over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners, Hamas is not interested in holding any further direct talks with Israel, the group’s deputy foreign minister said in an interview with Channel 10, aired Saturday.
Previous contacts were held because “we were willing to deal with problems,” Razi Hamed explained in accented, but fluent Hebrew. “Problems of prisoners, problems of cease-fires... but there are no direct contacts between Israel and Hamas.”
Click for full JPost coverage of Gilad SchalitClick for full JPost coverage of Gilad Schalit
The Gaza-based group, he said, “opposes direct negotiations with Israel.”
Hamed began holding back-channel contacts with the Israel-Palestine Center for Research and Information (IPCRI) co-founder and The Jerusalem Post columnist Gershon Baskin in July of this year, as part of an attempt to resolve the five-year-old case of Gilad Schalit.
It was only when those contacts were initiated four months ago, Hamed said, that “I knew that it was possible to reach a deal.”
Michael Omer-Man contributed to this report.