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Palestinian prisoner's mother Photo: AFP
Palestinian prisoner's mother Photo: AFP
 
 

Report: Deportation issue led to deadlock in Shalit talks

Hamas sources tell al-Hayat newspaper deal aimed at securing kidnapped soldier's release did not fail due to disagreement over number of prisoners, but rather because of Israel's demand that freed terrorists be expelled. Head of group's military wing: We see no difference between Olmert and Netanyahu

Roee Nahmias
Published: 03.18.09, 08:09 / Israel News

The disagreement which led to the deadlock in the negotiations aimed at securing kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit's release was not over the number of prisoners slated to be freed by Israel, but rather over their deportation, Hamas sources told the London-based Arabic-language al-Hayat newspaper on Wednesday morning.

 

According to the same sources, Israel offered to expel 90 prisoners living in the West Bank abroad, and 30 others to the Gaza Strip.

 

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"The disagreement was over the deportation issue," one of the sources said. He quoted the leaders of Hamas' military wing in Gaza, Ahmed Jabari, who led the negotiations in Cairo and had said, "I have no problem keeping Shalit in captivity another year, as long as the negotiations don't achieve Hamas' demands.

 

"We see no difference between (Prime Minister Ehud) Olmert and (Prime Minister-designate Benjamin) Netanyahu. The only thing that interests us is that our demands will be answered," Jabari had added.

 

The sources also denied Israeli reports that Hamas had toughened its stance, saying that the organization did not present further conditions. According to the sources, Israel is trying to pull a maneuver in order to pressure Hamas to lower the deal's price.

 

Senior Hamas members said that the Olmert government was implying that the matter would be turned over to Netanyahu's right-wing government in order to pressure the Palestinian movement even more.

 

One of Hamas' leaders in Gaza, Ismail Radwan, told AFP on Tuesday night that "Olmert is the one responsible for the failure of getting a deal...because he wouldn't do what he had to do. He was afraid and he played the Israeli public and the Shalit family for fools."

 

Hamas politburo member Osama al-Mazini, said to hold the "Shalit portfolio" in the Islamist group, told al-Jazeera television that his group "set a declared goal demanding the release of 1,000 prisoners in two rotations – the first including 450 men jailed for lengthy terms and the second, two months later, including 500 prisoners."

 

Israel was the one to renege on the understandings, he said, adding that the list was complied "only after the Zionist enemy agreed to these terms. It is the enemy that went back on the agreement… This list is as the heart of the deal."

 

In an unusual move, the Israeli government on Tuesday published the names of some of the Palestinian prisoners Hamas demanded in exchange for the release of the kidnapped soldier. Alongside those who Israel refused to release, it also named 10 prisoners it agreed to free – as long as they are deported.

 

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