'Israel will wipe out Hamas leaders if position on Schalit not softened'

Israel will assassinate Hamas leaders if the group fails to soften its negotiating position in talks aimed at bringing about the release of kidnapped IDF Cpl. Gilad Schalit in return for Palestinian prisoners, the London-based Al Quds al Arabi quoted Hamas officials as saying on Thursday. The sources told the paper the Israeli "message" was conveyed to Egypt, which in turn warned Hamas. The paper reported also that Egypt was eager to begin indirect negotiations between Hamas and Israel as soon as possible, in order to secure the release of Schalit within a month at the most. Hamas, according to the report, prefers to begin talks only once the gap between the two sides' positions is narrower. The Jerusalem Post could not independently confirm the report.