Will the Shalit deal help improve the Israel
-Turkey relations? President Shimon Peres
used his public meeting with Israeli negotiator David Meidan on Wednesday to laud Ankara for its contribution to the deal securing kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit's
Without elaborating, Peres said, "I was pleasantly surprised by the Turkish government's stand.
Latest stories on Shalit deal:
"They put everything aside and favored the humanitarian side over politics," said Peres, addressing the Turkish stand on the captive soldiers, regardless of the diplomatic crisis between the two countries.
"I was told that it was done by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan," Peres said of the man who has been constantly attacking Israel
since the flotilla raid on a Turkish Gaza-bound ship.
According to Peres, the diplomatic effort to secure Shalit's release was "a combination of a particularly effort between international relations and relations between people."
Turkey welcomed the prisoner exchange deal on Wednesday, saying that it was ready to contribute to the process.
"Turkey sees uniting people with their families as a positive development in easing tensions in the region," Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu was quoted as saying by the Today's Zaman newspaper. He noted that Hamas
had notified Ankara about the agreement before signing it.
"Turkey is ready to contribute to any stage in this process," Davutoglu said. He noted that Erdogan had tried to initiate moves which would lead to Shalit's release in the past.
The newspaper said it reported in July that Israeli and Turkish businesspeople delivered to Erdogan a letter from Noam Shalit, asking him to convince Hamas to agree to the German offer. According to the report, Erdogan promised at the time to personally take care of the issue.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's emissary to the negotiations noted in his meeting with Peres that "the mission has yet to be accomplished, and the deal is pretty complicated." He said he would soon be leaving for Cairo again.
Sources in the President's Residence noted that Peres would be receiving the personal files of the prisoners slated to be released as part of the deal in order to pardon them.
Izat Rishak, a member of Hamas political bureau in Damascus, admitted that the prisoner exchange deal would not include Palestinian prisoners considered political and military leaders, like Marwan Barghouti and Ahmed Saadat, and the leaders of Hamas' military wing – Ibrahim Khamed, Abdullah Barghouti and Abbas Sayad.
Gazans celebrate prisoner release (Photo: Reuters)
He added that the deal has been postponed several times in the past in order to secure the release of the highest number of prisoners, including "heavy" ones.
"I hope we can release the rest in the next prisoner exchange deal, and they are definitely on our minds. Our joy is incomplete because these prisoners will stay in the Israeli prisons, but we will fulfill our promise to release all of them" Rishak said.
He added that Hamas would release the list of prisoners once it is published in Israel.
Osama Hamdan, another member of Hamas' political bureau, noted that the conditions of the deal with Israel, including the removal of some prisoners' names, were finalized in cooperation with the leadership of the Palestinian prisoners jailed in Israel. He said the prisoners' agreement encouraged Hamas to finalize the deal.
A Hamas source located in Damascus told the website of Egyptian newspaper al-Ahram that Gilad Shalit would be united with his family within three days."
Roi Kais and Elior Levy contributed to this report