Abbas advisor: Prisoner swap unlikely in near future

PA national security adviser says Israel, Hamas don't want Abbas playing role in talks.

Abbas Ivanov 298.88 (photo credit: AP)
Abbas Ivanov 298.88
(photo credit: AP)
Israel and Hamas don't want Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to play any role in the talks over the release of kidnapped IDF Cpl. Gilad Schalit, PA National Security Adviser Muhammad Dahlan claimed on Thursday. Meanwhile, Abbas met in Ramallah with Russian envoy Igor Ivanov and discussed with him, among other things, the negotiations with Israel over the release of Schalit. "The real negotiations over the release of Schalit began when Israel received the list of Palestinian prisoners who are to be freed in a prisoner exchange," Dahlan said. "President Abbas is making an effort to achieve a prisoner exchange although both Hamas and Israel are not interested in having him play any role. I hope the Palestinian prisoners will be released soon." Dahlan said the negotiations require more time, saying the Palestinians must be patient. He also called on all the Palestinian factions not to issue public statements that "stretch the nerves" of the families of the prisoners. Hamas representatives have repeatedly expressed concern that Abbas and his Fatah faction may try to take credit for the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in return for Schalit. Osama Mazini, a top political leader of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, said on Thursday that his movement still hasn't received an official response from Israel to the list of prisoners that was presented to the Israeli government last week. In response to reports that Israel had expressed reservations about the list, Mazini said Schalit's captors would not come up with a new list of names. "The captors have the right to put any name they want on the list," he said. "If Israel does not accept the original list, there will be no room for more negotiations. "The soldier was kidnapped in order to free as many Palestinians as possible, especially those who are serving lengthy sentences." The Hamas official also denied reports that the name of top Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti was not included in the list. "The list consists of members of all the Palestinian factions," he said. "Anyone who claims that Barghouti is not among them is only seeking to drive a wedge between the factions. The names of leaders of various factions who are in prison appear at the top of the list." Nabil Amr, a special adviser to Abbas, said he was now less optimistic about the prospects of conducting a prisoner exchange with Israel. "I don't believe there will be a prisoner swap in the near future," he said. "There is a feeling that each time we get close to solving this case, new obstacles arise," he said. "The case is apparently once again stuck. We want to solve this problem as quickly as possible because the Palestinians have paid a very heavy price ever since the soldier was captured."