Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal said in a speech on Saturday that his organization refuses to negotiate a prisoner exchange deal before Israel frees prisoners released in the Shalit deal who were subsequently rearrested.
Speaking two days before the annual Palestinian Prisoners’ Day, Mashaal said, “One of the obstacles facing a new deal is Israel’s disregard for its obligations.
“Israel did not meet its obligations in the previous deal, so who will guarantee that it would be committed in a new deal? ... There were several attempts to mediate regarding prisoner exchange, some of which were leaked to the media, and some of which were not.
“We informed all the mediators that any information about the Israeli captives would carry a price and would not be given for free.”
Two months ago Hamas referred for the first time to talks on a prisoner exchange deal. The military wing then told Al Jazeera, which is close to the organization, that Israel had made offers through intermediaries, but that “the formula offered by Israel does not meet the minimum requirements.”
Three Israeli civilians—Abera Mengistu, Hisham al-Sayed and Jumaa Ibrahim Abu-Ghanima—and the remains of two IDF soldiers—Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin, who were killed in Operation Protective Edge—are being held in the Gaza Strip.
The Arab Israeli daily Kul al-Arab reported earlier this year from a Hamas source that Qatar was mediating between Israel and Hamas over a new prisoner exchange deal.
According to the report, Hamas made the talks conditional upon the release of 60 prisoners who were released in the Shalit deal and who were subsequently arrested at various stages following its implementation.
The report suggests that Israel agreed to the demand on the condition that the released prisoners are expelled to the Gaza Strip or Qatar. This suggestion however, was apparently rejected by Hamas. But the organization denied the report on Qatari mediation, commenting, “There is no mediation in this matter, let alone Qatar’s intervention.”
(Article translated and edited by J. Herzog)