Hamas official says group won't be 'obstacle' blocking Schalit swap deal

Hamas will not be an "obstacle" in the way of a prisoner swap deal for captured IDF soldier Gilad Schalit, Moussa Abu Marzouk, the deputy head of Hamas' political bureau was quoted as saying Friday. In an interview with Al-Jazeera, the Syria-based official said that Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal and former US president Jimmy Carter would discuss the topic in a meeting in Damascus later Friday. When he was asked whether Hamas would hold a meeting with Israeli representatives on the Schalit issue, Marzouk answered that it was Hamas policy not to meet with Israelis. Earlier Friday MK Eli Yishai (Shas) said that he asked former US President Carter to tell Hamas he wants to talk to the militant group. Yishai wants to win the release of a captured Israeli soldier. The minister says he wouldn't discuss Israel-Gaza fighting so as not to go against a government ban on negotiating with Hamas. Yishai was the only Israeli minister to meet Carter during his current Mideast visit. Carter met Hamas officials on the trip he has called a private peace mission. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said he did not meet Carter so as not to create the impression that he was negotiating with the Islamic militants. Israel considers Hamas a terrorist group.