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צילום: דודי ועקנין
Three of 32 arrested Hamas officials
Photo: David Vaknin
צילום: איי אף פי
Former Palestinian foreign minister Nabil Shaath
Photo: AFP
Hamas leaders: We are not Hamasniks
Some 32 Hamas legislators, ministers arrested in West Bank say during interrogation they aren't Hamas members, al-Sharq al-Awsat reports; members say they were elected on independent list; interrogators were unimpressed

Israel thought it captured senior Hamas officials in the West Bank, but the 32 legislators and ministers arrested last week by the Israel Defense Forces denied in interrogation that they belong to the Hamas movement.

 

According to the London-based al-Sharq al-Awsat, when Hamas members were asked about their affiliations they said they were elected on an independent list called The List for Change and Reform and that they do not belong to Hamas.

 

The claim was made by all 32 arrested members in coordination with their lawyer Attorney Jawad Boulous.

 

The newspaper added and reported that Israeli interrogators were not particularly impressed of this version and engaged in political discussions with their detainees. The parties discussed the possibility of Hamas joining a political process.

 

Egypt, Saudi Arabia leading talks

 

Meanwhile, Palestinian legislator Nabil Shaath told the Saudi daily al-Watan that Egypt and Saudi Arabia are hindering western pressure on Syria and Iran to use their sway over Hamas to end the current crisis.

 

The two countries were said to be leading efforts to end an economic boycott imposed by western donors on the Palestinian Authority.

 

Shaath added that Egypt and Saudi Arabi are negotiating the release of kidnapped Corporal Gilad Shalit with Syria and Iran.

 

"There is a wide diplomatic effort involving Europe, the United States, Russia, and Turkey, but is led by Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Egypt is the only country capable of filing a role like this on the ground but it needs Saudi assistance and this is what happened lately."

 

Shaath said the deal being brokered by Egypt calls for the release of Shalit and the cession of rocket attacks against Israel in return for Israel halting its offensive in Gaza, releasing arrested Hamas officials and freeing "a considerable number" of Palestinian prisoners.

 

Shaath who visited Saudi Arabia and Egypt lately said if the deal is accepted by the kidnappers, a political process could start.

 

"There is a need for international donors to transfer aid. For example, Saudi Arabia is interested in transferring funds to the Palestinian Authority but not as a one-time deal but to open the door for more donations in the future," he said.

 

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