'Final Hamas offer presented to Israel'

Report French medical t

The German mediator in talks over the prisoner exchange deal to release captured IDF soldier St.-Sgt. Gilad Schalit arrived in Tel Aviv on Sunday evening to present the final Hamas proposal to Israel, Channel 2 reported, citing an Al-Jazeera report. After the meeting, the German mediator will reportedly return to the Gaza Strip and relay Israel's response to the Hamas leadership. A Hamas official told the Arab television network that if Israel will not accept the group's demands within two days, "the deal will be postponed." "The next 48 hours will be critical, leading either to the finalization or the postponement of the deal," the senior Hamas official was quoted as saying. Elsewhere, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit called on Israel to show flexibility in the negotiations to release Schalit and to pay the price Hamas demands for the release of the soldier. In an interview with Al Arabiya television, Aboul Gheit said "Israel should not exaggerate its demands. It must pay the price needed to close a deal. We have told Israel that if it wants to receive the soldier, it must pay the price the Palestinians are demanding." Earlier Sunday, a Hamas source denied an Al-Hayat report that a four-person French medical team arrived in Gaza last week to check on Schalit's condition, Israel Radio reported. The source told Israel Radio that Hamas had received no such request from the German mediator. He added that such a visit would not be reasonable. According to the Al-Hayat report, the mediator arranged for the crew to travel to the Strip from Cairo via the Rafah crossing. The results of the medical examination were not reported. The Jerusalem Post could not confirm the report. The visit would mark the first time that an outside party, not affiliated with Hamas, has visited the captured soldier. In related news, Al Hayat also reported that the German mediator had threatened to quit his efforts due to "Israeli intransigence" with regards to Hamas's conditions for Schalit's release. In the Al Hayat report, the German mediator specifically cited Israel's refusal to release 44 prisoners from east Jerusalem, 20 Arab-Israeli prisoners, and one prisoner from the Golan Heights. On Saturday, Aboul Gheit had said that Israel must respond to Hamas's demands if it wants to see Schalit released. "We told the Israelis that if you want your soldier, you must pay the price demanded by the Palestinians," Egypt news agency MENA quoted him as saying on Saturday. Israel should not "exaggerate its demands," the Egyptian foreign minister added.