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Photo: Noam Rotem
Negotiations on Shalit still open
Photo: Noam Rotem
Source: Israel toughening negotiation stance
Anonymous Egyptian official claims Israel changing position because of assumption Hamas wants to finish deal before Olmert's tenure up, but stresses Hamas will not bend

An Egyptian source criticized Israel's position during recent negotiations for kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit, saying that the country had overestimated Hamas eagerness to make a deal and toughened its stance too much.

 

Speaking to the London-based Arab-language newspaper al-Hayat, the source said that Israel functioned from an erroneous assumption that Hamas was under internal pressure to conclude any deal while Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was still leading the country.

 

Despite Israel's retrenchment, the source noted that the possibility still exists of reaching an agreement. He emphasized, however, that Israel's latest, tougher offer was not enough for Hamas.

 

Specifically, he said that Israel had wanted to remove 200 Palestinians prisoners among those on Hamas' requested list to areas outside of Israel or the Palestinian territories, including both Arab and western nations.

 

"There are western nations that don't have ties with Hamas such that these released prisoners would basically be under house arrest," the source reported.

 

"Hamas emphasized that it cannot accept the banishment of released prisoners and is sticking to its demands, regardless of whether they will come into effect during Olmert's tenure or the tenure of (Prime Minister-designate Benjamin) Netanyahu. It doesn't matter who leads the government," he added.

 

The report came as Israel marks Shalit's thousandth day in captivity.

 

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