Palestinian sources reported that Hamas' Deputy Politburo Chief Moussa Abu Marzouk handed Egyptian authorities the organization's "final answer on the prisoner exchange deal with Israel."
The sources told Hamas journal al-Risala that Abu Mazouk met with "a senior official who came especially from Gaza to Cairo." The report did not mention the identity of the official, but he is believed to be head of Hamas' military wing Ahmed Jabari, who reportedly Arrived in Cairo on Wednesday to discuss a deal which would secure the release of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit.
Earlier this week, Former Egyptian Ambassador to Israel Muhammad Basyuni and
the representative of the Palestinian Authority to Moscow claimed that the sides are hours away from signing a deal.
However, Izat a-Rishak, a member of Hamas' political bureau in Damascus, denied that progress had been made in the negotiations.
In a statement published on the movement's website, he blamed Israel for the failure to reach an agreement.
"The deal is still stuck due to the stubbornness of (Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu and his government. They are responsible for the delay," he stated.
The captive soldier's parents, Noam and Aviva Shalit, met with French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe on Thursday afternoon. They said after the meeting that they had received no news about progress in the effort to free their son.
Meanwhile, French first lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy responded to a letter sent to her by Netanyahu's wife Sara, saying that France was doing everything to put an end to Shalit's suffering.
"Just like you, I hope with all my heart that the affair will soon come to an end," she wrote.