Analysis: Iran presses Hamas not to deal on Schalit

Iran presses Hamas not t

Iran is pressuring Hamas to reject Israel's offer in the negotiations for the release of Gilad Schalit. Hamas would likely not be able to make a deal with Israel without first receiving permission from Iran. Iran is asking Hamas what the rush is, believing that the longer Hamas makes Israel wait, the more they will get out of the deal. Iran's primary goal was maintaining a degree of instability in Israel. Similar claims of Iranian interference have been made in the past by officials in the Palestinian Authority. Not everyone in Hamas is believed though to support the Iranian position and assessments are that there is a split between Hamas leaders based in the Gaza Strip and in Israeli prisons with the Damascus-based leadership led by Khaled Mashaal. Mashaal visited Iran last month and met there with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The Schalit negotiations with Israel was reportedly one of the issues that came up in the discussions. The leadership in Gaza feels the pressure from the prisoners and the people and is more eager to reach a deal. However, the leadership in Damascus is not there to feel the pressure so is naturally less inclined to reach a deal with Israel. On Tuesday, the German intelligence operative trying to broker the deal traveled to the Gaza Strip, where he is expected to receive Hamas's response to Israel's most recent prisoner-exchange proposal. The results of his visit were unclear and some reports claimed that he planned to return to Gaza in several days. A senior Damascus-based Hamas official, Musa Abu Marzouk, accused Israel of "backtracking" from its earlier positions. "This is the Israelis' habit," he told the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper. "Whenever we are close to reaching a deal, they backtrack at the last minute." He nevertheless expressed his movement's desire to pursue indirect negotiations with Israel to reach a prisoner-swap accord. He said that the German agent "was not the first and won't be the last mediator."