Hamas says German mediator failed in Schalit talks

Konrad "adopted Netanyahu's positions instead of challenging them," Abu Marzouk tells 'Al-Hayat'; Hamas refuses to start talks from scratch.

Hamas leaders Khaled Meshaal and Moussa Abu Marzouk 311 (R) (photo credit: Khaled Al Hariri / Reuters)
Hamas leaders Khaled Meshaal and Moussa Abu Marzouk 311 (R)
(photo credit: Khaled Al Hariri / Reuters)
A senior Hamas official said that German mediator Gerhard Konrad had failed to make any progress in talks to return captive soldier Gilad Schalit, the London-based Al-Hayat Arabic-language newspaper reported Saturday. He rejected further involvement by the German mediator.
Deputy chairman of Hamas' political bureau, Moussa Abu Marzouk, told Al-Hayat that Konrad had not succeeded in advancing the prisoner exchange and had been unable to make any breakthroughs and that "there is no way back."
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He "did not succeed in changing the attitudes of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu," Abu Marzouk said, adding that he had "adopted [Netanyahu's] positions instead of addressing them."
Explaining the failure, he said that Konrad had not made an adequate effort to incorporate previous understandings reached under the previous government of Ehud Olmert into the current negotiations. The Hamas leader added that "now a breakthrough is no longer possible."
Abu Marzuk noted that while Konrad's role in the negotiations had ended, Hamas would "not oppose his return if the Israeli government wants it."
In Januray, Al-Hayat quoted a Hamas official as saying that Konrad, who visited the Gaza Strip a few weeks before, raised a number of “new ideas to advance the matter.”
The official, who was not identified by name, told the paper at the time that Hamas is waiting for Israel’s response to the new ideas.
Hamas has no intention to hold Schalit forever, but will agree to release him only as part of an honorable prisoner exchange deal, the official said.
In response, Hamas announced that there was nothing new regarding efforts to secure a prisoner swap with Israel.
Khaled Abu Toameh and Herb Keinon contributed to this report.