Photo: Noam Rotem
Gilad Shalit
Photo: Noam Rotem
Photo: Reuters
Khaled Mashaal
Photo: Reuters
Photo: AP
Mahmoud Abbas
Photo: AP

Report: Shalit to be freed if Mashaal enters Gaza

Israeli-Arab newspaper al-Sinara reports Hamas leadership in territories, Damascus willing to end kidnapped soldier affair, and even recognize Israel, if Israel allows senior group members to enter Strip

The Hamas leadership in the territories and in Damascus expressed its willingness to end the affair of kidnapped soldier Corporal Gilad Shalit.


Movement officials said that they would agree to release Shalit and even recognize Israel, in exchange for Israel allowing Hamas leaders, including politburo chief Khaled Mashaal, to arrive in Gaza from Damascus.


The report has not been confirmed by Israeli sources.


The report, which will be published in the Israeli-Arab newspaper al-Sinara on Friday, is based on knowledgeable Arab Palestinian sources. According to the report, last week Egypt conveyed the offer to the Hamas leadership in Damascus, saying that Israel allegedly agreed to release about 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the release of Shalit.


It was also reported that the Hamas leadership in Gaza accepted the proposal, but the representatives in Damascus rejected it, saying that it would only be accepted if Israel allows Mashaal and other senior Hamas leaders to arrive in Gaza, before or while Shalit is released.


Qatar to Abbas: United front needed  

The newspaper added that during Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' visit to Doha this week, the Qatari leadership told him about the Hamas leadership's new conditions. The Qatari leaders also told Abbas about Hamas' proposal that he meet with Mashaal in Doha, in a bid to form a united front on the Shalit issue and on other issues.


Abbas, according to al-Sinara, rejected the offer and explained to his Qatari hosts that "there is a Palestinian government led by Hamas in the territories, and I am sitting and talking to it. As far as I am concerned, Mashaal can form his stances outside as he pleases and declare them or oppose any issue he wants."


Qatar also expressed its readiness to transfer the Hamas offices from Damascus to Doha, in a bid to help reach an agreement between the movement and Fatah and between the Palestinians and Israel.


The issue of Shalit's release was one of them main matters discussed in the meeting between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice during the latter's visit to Israel this week.


Olmert told Rice that in spite of this willingness to help and bolster Abbas, who is facing a crisis in the Palestinian Authority, Israel would not agree to release prisoners before the kidnapped soldier is returned. According to the prime minister, releasing prisoners without a return will only cause Hamas to boost its demands.


Defense Minister Amir Peretz also said during his meeting with Rice that "the release of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit is a key for advancing any dialogue opposite the Palestinians."


פרסום ראשון: 10.06.06, 00:02
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