Haniyeh: Shalit deal needs lots of work

Hamas leader says negotiations to free captured soldier "complex and difficult."

Haniyeh 298.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
Haniyeh 298.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said negotiations for the release of kidnapped IDF soldier Cpl. Gilad Shalit were "complex and difficult," and would require much more work to be finalized. Haniyeh commented on Shalit in an interview with London-based newspaper Al-Hayat published on Friday. Haniyeh said fundamental differences between Israel's negotiating stance and one acceptable to the militant groups was preventing the deal from being closed. In an interview with the Bethlehem-based Maan News Agency on January 12, Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) spokesman Abu Mujahed revealed that the captors were demanding the release of some 1,000 Arab and Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails, as well as all female and minor inmates. Gaza-based terrorist groups PRC and the Islamic Army were part of the Hamas-led cross-border raid on the Kerem Shalom outpost in which Shalit was kidnapped and two more of his tank's crew members were killed. Addressing Shalit's family, Abu Mujahed said: "Your government does not want your son to return home. Had the government accepted the Egyptian offer, Gilad would have been at home by now." "We have managed to keep the soldier in captivity for six months and we have no problem keeping him for years," he added. In the Al-Hayat interview, Haniyeh also expressed optimism that his ruling Hamas movement would reach an agreement that would include rival Fatah in a unity government. However, Fatah officials said on Friday unity talks were off after an unprecedented escalation in factional violence since Thursday left 19 dead and dozens wounded.