The London-based newspaper Al-Hayat reported on Monday that Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas was not optimistic about securing the release of kidnapped IDF soldier Cpl. Gilad Schalit in the near future, Israel Radio reported. Abbas, who spoke during a closed meeting following the establishment of the new PA government, backed up his sentiments by noting that the kidnappers had refused his suggestion that they hand Schalit over to the Egyptians before all aspects of the transaction were completed. He added that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had agreed to the suggestion, but that the kidnappers' position had prevented it.
Olmert: Abbas reneged on promises
On Sunday, Abbas told reporters at a press conference following his meeting with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that he was "responsible for releasing Schalit alive" and that the kidnapped soldier was in good condition.
Conflicting reports on Schalit's imminent release have been circulating since he was abducted from the Kerem Shalom outpost by Hamas-linked operatives last June in a cross-border raid.