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'Very interested in closing deal'
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Shalit, 1,276 captive
Photo: Reuters
Hamas: Clarifications received, accept our demands
Under heavy cloud of secrecy, Hamas sources confirm receipt of clarifications of Israel's stance on prisoner exchange deal. Source says: 'We are determined to responds positively, but Israeli reservations cannot void deal of our demands'

Hamas sources confirmed to Ynet that the movement has received clarifications on Israel's stance with regards to a prisoner exchange deal from the German mediator. The sources refused to specify whether the clarifications were received in Damascus or in the Gaza Strip.

 

A very senior Hamas member stressed that his movement would not accept the mass deportation of its prisoners, as the Israeli message implied was a condition. The source said Hamas has yet to receive Israel's final message, and that it expected to be received very soon.

 

The sources added that the movement will hold fervent discussions on the matter in the coming hours.

 

"We've heard media reports about Israel's reservations," a source said. "We are determined to respond positively to the deal, but Israel's reservations cannot void the deal of its content and our demands. Without our demands being met, there will be no deal."

 

The source also stressed that Hamas is "very interested in closing the deal, but we cannot have Israel try any manipulations."

 

Hamas sources estimated that Israel's conditions were meant to get the ball back in their court. "This move was expected, but we will consider the deal according to the conditions outlined in advance," the source told Ynet. He refused to comment on the stance Hamas would present in its response.

 

However, relatives of Palestinian prisoners say they believe their children would rather be deported abroad than spend any more time in Israeli prisoners. There have been reports in the past that Hamas would allow the prisoners themselves to make a decision in the matter.

 

Meanwhile, a Hamas official told Reuters the German mediator had postponed his scheduled visit to Gaza and had not arrived in the Strip.

 

Another official close to the negotiations said the mediator would travel to the territory on Wednesday because Israel wanted to modify its reply to Hamas' demands and asked him to postpone his meetings.

 

Reuters contributed to this report

 

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