Mediator meets Gaza officials on Schalit, UK paper says
Palestinian sources say latest round of meetings "broke no ground."
By TOVAH LAZAROFF
In an effort to revitalize the stalled negotiations for captive soldier St.-Sgt. Gilad Schalit, a German mediator has met with officials in Gaza, Jerusalem and Cairo this month, the UK-based pan-Arab newspaper Al-Hayat reported on Sunday.Among those officials was Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman, the report said.Palestinian sources told the newspaper that “the visit did not break new ground,” and that the German mediator sought to revive the idea of a prisoner exchange between Hamas and Israel.But, they added, he had not put any requests on the table.Hamas said none of the mediator’s proposals allowed for a resumption of negotiations between the two parties, which broke down in December.“We do not seek to keep him, but Israel should pay a price first,” a Hamas source was quoted as saying.Schalit’s father, Noam, wrote a letter last week to Damascus-based Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal and urged him to accept the deal that included the release of close to 1,000 prisoners.Israel has blamed Hamas for the stalled talks. Hamas, in turn, has insisted that Israel has not met all of its demands.There is some speculation that Hamas, at this point, is stalling for time in hopes of kidnapping another Israeli to increase pressure on Israel.Meanwhile Sunday, about 50 activists campaigning for Schalit’s release carried a coffin to to the Prime Minister’s Office to underscore the point that delay in concluding a deal increased the risk to Schalit’s life.The activists stood outside the Prime Minister’s Office building andshouted for Schalit’s release. They stretched a white sign across thegate which noted that Noam Schalit was already a bereaved sibling,having lost a brother during the Yom Kippur War.“Let us make sure Noam Schalit will not also become a bereaved father,” they said.On the coffin itself were the words, “Here lies the military ethos not to leave any soldier behind.”Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.
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