Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. No talks with terror groups
Israel will not negotiate a prisoner exchange deal with the Hamas government, the Prime Minister's office said in a statement Monday. "The Israeli government will not give in to blackmail by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, led by murderous terror organizations. We will hold no negotiations over the release of prisoners," the statement said, rejecting an ultimatum issued by three Palestinian factions.
"The Palestinian Authority bears full responsibility for Gilad Shalit's wellbeing and for his safe and healthy return to Israel," the statement stressed.
Officials at the PM's Office have attempted throughout the day to analyze the meaning of the Palestinian ultimatum, and speculations were raised that the timing of the offer may be linked to a deterioration in Shalit's medical condition. Another possibility officials suggested was that the ultimatum was issued as a result of the heavy Israeli pressure exerted at the Palestinian population.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert received the initial notice regarding the ultimatum during a security briefing held at his office in Jerusalem Monday morning, attended by Defense Minister Amir Peretz. Intelligence officials were immediately asked to look into the information's credibility and authenticity.