PM: Rallies for Schalit unhelpful

Olmert says demonstrations strengthen Hamas; 'Al-Hayat': Israel vowed not to harm Hamas No. 2.

Abu Marzouk 224 88 (photo credit: AP [file])
Abu Marzouk 224 88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Demonstrations for the release of captured IDF soldier Gilad Schalit do nothing to help negotiations for his return, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Friday. Speaking at Kibbutz Yifat, Olmert said, "He is being held by scum. When they see a rally of 20,000 people, what do you think - does it strengthen or weaken them?" In response, the Committee of Friends for the Release of Gilad Schalit said in a statement, "We do not know if the demonstrations for the return of Gilad help, but what we do know is that Olmert isn't helping." Meanwhile, Al-Hayat reported Friday that Israel promised Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman not to harm Hamas No. 2 Moussa Abu Marzouk during the latter's visit to the Gaza Strip last week. The London-based newspaper said that Suleiman sought to accelerate a deal for the release of Schalit with the help of the Israeli guarantees. Another London-based newspaper, al-Quds al-Arabi, reported last week that consultations on Schalit's release was one of the focuses of Marzouk's trip to the Strip Palestinian sources told Al-Hayat that Marzouk, the deputy chairman of Hamas's political bureau, met Hamas armed wing commander Ahmed al-Jaabri and Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh during the visit to Gaza. According to the sources, Jaabri was the one who hid Schalit, is responsible for his welfare and is a central figure in drawing up a list of prisoners the group is demanding in exchange for the IDF soldier's release. The newspaper further stated that Israel had refused to free between six and 10 prisoners on the Hamas list, and that no date had yet been set for extensive, marathon talks between the two sides. The Jerusalem Post could not confirm the report.