Abbas: Schalit mediator may resign soon

PM reluctant to sign Sc

Schalit video  248.88 (photo credit: )
Schalit video 248.88
(photo credit: )
The German mediator overseeing talks between Hamas and Israel over the release of captured IDF soldier St.-Sgt. Gilad Schalit has given the two sides 2-3 weeks to come to an agreement, Al-Ahram quoted Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas as saying on Saturday. According to the report, Abbas stated that if a deal was not secured within two to three weeks, the mediator would resign from his post. The PA president stressed that he supported the prisoner exchange deal. The Palestinians, he told the Egyptian newspaper, were paying a heavy price for Schalit's capture. Abbas added that the release of any Palestinian prisoner was an accomplishment in the eyes of his people. Meanwhile on Saturday, a leading Egyptian defense official who formerly served as Cairo's ambassador to Israel denied that Jerusalem would on Sunday give Hamas its final answer concerning a possible Schalit deal. Citing an Al-Hayat interview, Israel Radio quoted Mohammed Basyouni as saying that the two sides were still in disagreement over 50 prisoners that Israel refused to release within the framework of a deal, among them senior Fatah member Marwan Barghouti and Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) head Ahmed Sa'adat. The ball is now in Israel's court, Basyouni reportedly said. Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman is slated to make a trip to Israel on Sunday, but officials in Cairo have denied that the planned visit is directly related to the Schalit talks. The Fox News network reported on Friday that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has been reluctant to sign a prisoner exchange deal which Hamas presented three weeks ago. The Jerusalem Post could not confirm the Fox report. According to the report, the seven senior members of the Security Cabinet were divided over the proposed deal. An Israeli source "familiar with the negotiations" was quoted by Fox as suggesting that the German mediator was biased in favor of Hamas. "Israel is being played by the German mediator," the source reportedly told Fox News. "And he seems to be more favorable to Hamas, possibly because of the German government's economic ties with Iran, known to be Hamas's financial and ideological backer." The unnamed Israeli source added that "time kills all deals." The Fox report also quoted an Egyptian source as confirming that talks had been stalled and were awaiting a formal Israeli response for the past three weeks.