'Germany will get better Schalit deal'

Hamas: Egypt isn't pressing Israel enough, Regev -Goldwasser swap gives us chance to ask for more.

Gilad Schalit 248.88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Gilad Schalit 248.88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
In the aftermath of Wednesday's prisoner swap between Israel and Hizbullah, there are increasing calls in Hamas to replace the Egyptian mediators with German intermediaries in the talks on abducted IDF soldier St.-Sgt. Gilad Schalit. Several Hamas officials have been quoted over the past 24 hours as expressing deep disappointment with the way the Egyptians have been handling the Schalit mediation effort. "The Egyptians have proved that they are unable to put enough pressure on Israel to accept our demands," one Hamas official reportedly said. Another Hamas official said his movement was under the impression that the Egyptians "were on Israel's side more than on our side." "We were expecting our Egyptian brothers to represent the interests of all Arabs in the talks over Schalit. But the Egyptians don't seem to care about us," he said. Hamas is also upset with the Egyptians for failing to reopen the Rafah border crossing between Sinai and Gaza in the wake of the cease-fire agreement reached with Israel last month. On Thursday, some Hamas officials said they believed German mediators would be more effective in bringing about an agreement on a prisoner exchange with Israel. German mediators had always played successful roles in achieving prisoner exchange deals between Israel and Hizbullah, the Hamas officials said. Osama Hamdan, Hamas's representative in Lebanon, confirmed there were growing demands in his movement to use the good offices of the Germans to reach an agreement with Israel. However, he said that as of now Hamas had not held any official discussion on replacing the Egyptians with Germans. "We remain committed to the Egyptian mediation efforts," he told Al-Jazeera. "However, we have suspended the talks on Schalit for two reasons: one, because the Israeli enemy has not abided by the terms of the cease-fire agreement, and two, because the Rafah border crossing remains closed." Hamas was not in no rush to resolve the Schalit case, Hamdan said. "We want a just and fair deal that would give us what we want." He said the lesson to be drawn from Wednesday's prisoner exchange was that Israel could no longer impose conditions. "If we remain firm, we will be able to achieve our goals," he said. "We can achieve victory over this enemy." Asked if Hamas planned to "up" its demands following the Israel-Hizbullah agreement, the Hamas official said: "This deal gives us a chance to ask for more. I can't say that we will up our demands today, but we will certainly not accept anything less than what we have asked for." Hamas is demanding that Israel release 1,000 security prisoners, in stages, in a deal for Schalit. A Hamas-affiliated Web site called on Hamas Thursday to reconsider its decision to allow the Egyptians to mediate regarding Schalit. "How can we expect Egypt to force Israel to honor any prisoner exchange agreement when Cairo can't even pressure Israel to abide by the cease-fire deal in the Gaza Strip?" the Web site's editor asked. "Egypt is a weak and helpless country that can't even open the Rafah border in the face of travelers and patients." The editor said the time had come for Hamas to withdraw the Schalit file from the hands of the Egyptians and hand it over to German mediators. "The main reason why the deal with Hizbullah succeeded was because the German mediator was objective and fair," the Hamas editor wrote. "The Egyptian mediators conducting the indirect talks between Hamas and Israel are not honest. The Egyptians are trying to fulfill Israel's demands by exerting pressure on the Palestinians and exploiting their bad conditions resulting from the siege."