Mashaal’s deputy: Quid pro quo on Shalit release
Musa Abu Marzuk tells London-based Arabic language newspaper Al-Hayat ‘kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit will not be released without compensation.’ Adds: There is not one Palestinian who wants to free the soldier without the release of (Palestinian security) prisoners. Foreign media outlets say Israel may be softening its stance on possible exchange deal
Eleven days since Corporal Gilad Shalit was abducted at an army outpost and taken into Gaza territory, more and more questions regarding his current location and condition arise as the hours pass.
Musa Abu Marzuk, the deputy of Hamas political leader Khaled Mashaal, told London-based Arabic language newspaper Al-Hayat that kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit will not be released without “compensation.”
“There is not one Palestinian who wants to free the soldier without the release of (Palestinian security) prisoners,” he said. “There are 380 teens and 120 women jailed in Israel. If Israel wants to resolve the matter – there is no solution other than a diplomatic one.”
However, Hamas members in Gaza have expressed their willingness to compromise on a deal to free the soldier; according to Reuters and Arab media outlets, the abductors have reiterated their demand to release 1,000 male Palestinian prisoners in addition to female prisoners, but Israel has refused this offer as well, causing the Egyptian delegation to halt its mediation efforts.
But other foreign media outlets said Israel is softening its stance to a certain extent: Along with the unequivocal “we will not negotiate or surrender to the kidnappers” position, the government has hinted that it would agree to release prisoners “at a later date as an act of goodwill,” and ‘not as a part of a direct deal for Shalit’s release.’
'Syria and Hamas are not responsible'
Diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis are continuing: A senior advisor to the Turkish prime minister met with Mashaal in Damascus and told him that pursuant to the United States’ request, his country would be willing to help advance a prisoners exchange deal; Egypt and Qatar are also working to resolve the kidnapping affair.
Abu Marzuk slammed those who “prefer the role of mediators instead of backing the Palestinians,” and criticized the pressure exerted on Syria in the affair.
Syria has repeatedly denied any connection to the kidnapping and the subsequent escalation in the region.
“Syria and Hamas are not responsible for the escalation,” a Syrian official sad. “Damascus supports solutions that would bring and end to the Palestinian nation’s suffering, but these decisions must be made in Gaza.”