Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak
Photo: API
Kidnapped Corporal Gilad Shalit
Mubarak: 'External elements' prevented Shalit's release
Speaking to al-Mussawar newspaper, Egyptian president says efforts to free Corporal Gilad Shalit were stymied by "external elements"; Hamas welcomes Egyptian mediation which they say should not jeopardize interest of Lebanese, Palestinian people

Egypt renewed contacts with Israel and the Palestinians in an attempt to solve the crisis over the kidnapping of Corporal Gilad Shalit, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak told al-Musawer.


"It is possible to find a solution which will allow the Israeli incursion into Gaza and brings about the release of a considerable number of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jail," Mubarak said.


Mubarak added that Egypt was close to brokering a deal to secure Shalit's release "had external elements not been involved." Mubarak said these elements hindered Egyptian efforts.


Mubarak spoke of the deepening crisis between Israel and Lebanon, stressing that Egypt is trying to find a solution that can bring about a cease-fire.


He rejected reports in the Israeli media that Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia have formed a front against Hizbullah, out of their keenness to see the Shiite group disarmed.


"Just as Egypt strives to not let others interfere in its internal affairs, it strives not to interfere in the internal affairs of another country. Hizbullah is a Lebanese affair and Egypt will not interfere," he said.


Hamas: Egyptian efforts should not jeopardize Lebanese interests


Hamas legislator Mhammad al-Ramhi spoke of renewed efforts to secure the release of Gilad Shalit: "We welcome Egypt's efforts to solve
the crisis, but we will not agree they will come on the account of Hizbullah and the Lebanese people who are facing a war of extermination."


Al-Ramhi said Hamas will not reject fair proposals to secure the release of prisoners. "We prefer to separate between the Lebanese and Palestinian channels for technical reasons. But we estimate that a stance against Hamas will not serve the resistance and may be used against the Lebanese people. What is happening in Lebanon is resistance and he who is opposed to resistance is with the Israeli enemy," he said.


Meanwhile the London-based daily al-Hayat newspaper said western powers are trying to convince Israel to make a prisoner exchange deal with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to strengthen him against Hamas.


Abbas has refused to mediate between Israel and Hamas.


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