'Low chance of Schalit deal in 2 days'

Yehezkel says Hamas holding up negotiations; group threatens to kidnap more Israeli soldiers.

Schalit family protest tent 248.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Schalit family protest tent 248.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
As the prime minister's special negotiator Ofer Dekel left the country Saturday night to continue his efforts to secure a deal for the release of captured IDF soldier Gilad Schalit, Cabinet Secretary Oved Yehezkel surmised that the likelihood of achieving such a goal was low. "The chances of securing Schalit's release in the next two or three days are not high," Yehezkel told Army Radio on Sunday morning. He said the issue had been delayed as Hamas had not provided Israel with a revised list of prisoners to be released in a potential exchange deal. While contacts are ongoing, Yehezkel said he assumed "matters will wait for the new government" to be sworn in this week. The last round of indirect negotiations with Hamas broke down on March 16, when Israel agreed to release only 325 of the 450 prisoners which Hamas has demanded in exchange for Schalit. Since then, in an attempt to pressure the group, outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has published information about the prisoner list in the Israeli media and the government has threatened to make life harder for Hamas prisoners in Israeli jails. On their internet site on Saturday, meanwhile, Hamas reiterated previous threats to kidnap more Israeli soldiers. It said that Israel apparently needed more incentive than it had to reach a deal. Olmert has said in the past that he wants to conclude a deal before he leaves office, though there is little time left for him to do so, given that Prime Minister-designate Binyamin Netanyahu is expected to replace him later in the week. The Schalit family has said they believe the change in governments will delay any deal for Gilad's release. The Prime Minister's Office on Saturday would not comment on reports regarding Dekel. AP contributed to this report