'Israel, Hamas to begin Schalit talks'

Report: Marathon meetings set to start Tuesday in Cairo with the intention of bringing soldier home.

gilad schalit 248.88 (photo credit: Channel 2)
gilad schalit 248.88
(photo credit: Channel 2)
Israel and Hamas will begin a two-week marathon of indirect talks in Cairo on Tuesday in an effort to arrive at an agreement that would ensure the release of kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Schalit, the London-based Arab daily Asharq Al-Awsat reported Monday. The paper quoted a senior Palestinian source as saying that the decision to embark on the intensive round of talks comes as a result of recent meetings conducted by Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman with the head of the Defense Ministry's Security-Diplomatic Bureau Amos Gilad and Hamas officials. The Jerusalem Post could not independently confirm this report. The Palestinian source told the paper that the Israeli and Hamas delegations will stay in separate wings of the same Cairo hotel. The Egyptian mediators, the source said, would shuttle messages between the two teams. The source also claimed that Egypt had pressured Hamas into agreeing to conduct the talks. Hamas, he said, had only consented to the talks on condition that the Egyptians convince Israel to back down from its refusal to accept the list of prisoners that the organizations is demanding be released in exchange for the kidnapped soldier. According to the Palestinian source, Hamas had made it clear to the Egyptians that it could not accept Israel's proposal for a swap. The organization, he said, was demanding that the release of 350 prisoners coincide with the transfer of Schalit to Egypt and requested that 100 additional prisoners be released after Schalit's passage to Israel and that 350 more be freed two months later. Israel, the source said, had so far agreed to release 70 names from a list submitted by Hamas. The source also claimed that the Egyptians had warned the Hamas delegation to employ extreme security measures to ensure that Mossad would not eavesdrop on their conversations.