PM Olmert - No deal
Photo: AFP
PM's Office: Hamas toughened its stance
No prisoner swap for time being: Hamas reneged on previous understandings, toughened its stance on deal to secure abducted IDF soldier's release, Prime Minister's Office says Monday night
No deal: The Prime Minister's Office said Monday night that Hamas has reneged on previous understandings, thereby averting the possibility of securing the release of IDF soldier Gilad Shalit.


The Prime Minister's Office said that Hamas toughened its stance while presenting extreme demands. According to the PM's Office, Hamas has upped its demands despite Israel's generous offers and attempts to successfully conclude negotiations meant to secure the captive soldier's return.


The PM convened a government session for Tuesday at 2 pm and is expected to brief cabinet ministers on the latest developments in the Cairo talks to secure Shalit.


According to a senior source in the PM's Office, "a deal cannot be finalized on such terms, and there's nothing to vote on (in the government session) Tuesday." Officials at Olmert's office added that at this time it is unclear whether more talks will be held vis-à-vis Hamas via Egyptian mediation.


According to updates relayed to government ministers, no vote will be held during Tuesday's cabinet session. Instead, the ministers will be briefed by Olmert and other officials on Israel's offers and the understandings Hamas chose to go back on.


Olmert's Military Secretary, Major General Meir Kalifi, called the abducted soldier's father, Noam Shalit, to inform him that for the time being no deal had been finalized to secure his son's release. Shalit's father was informed of the news before the official statement to the media was issued.


Tuesday protest planned

Noam Shalit refused to elaborate on the conversation, saying that "it wasn't anything dramatic." The abducted soldier's mother, Aviva, left the family's protest tent opposite the PM's residence immediately after the call and returned to her hotel room.


Meanwhile, a leading activist on behalf of Shalit, Tom Dromi told Ynet that supporters of the abducted soldier's family will protest outside Tuesday's government session. The activists also intend to submit tens of thousands of signatures collected in recent days in support of securing Shalit's release.


Meanwhile, Hamas sources said that the swap terms outlined by the group on the first day of the abduction have not changed.


The group is unwilling to remove any names from its list of prisoners to be released and is also unwilling to agree to the expulsion of detainees from the territories, the sources said, prior to the announcement made by Olmert's office.


Later, a Hamas source denied the Prime Minister's Office report suggesting the group toughened its stance on the Shalit deal. "The Israelis tried to play with the names at the last moment, and go back on names that were already agreed upon," he said.


"We don’t know if this is a matter of internal constraints or internal conflicts, but it is the Israeli side that has toughened their stance and reverted the talks," he said, claiming that Israel got "cold feet" as the deal was nearing completion. 


Ali Waked contributed to the story


First published: 16.03.09, 23:09
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