Talks are being held in Cairo Tuesday with Hamas representatives in an effort to bring about a breakthrough in the kidnapping of IDF soldier Gilad Shalit.
In the framework of these talks Head of Egyptian Intelligence Omar Suleiman is set to meet with a high-raking Hamas delegation from Damascus and with CIA officials.
A senior Hamas official said the delegation is headed by Imad al-Alami, Hamas’ representative in Syria, and lawmaker Mushir al-Masri.
According to the official, it was Egypt that initiated the talks; London-based Arabic newspaper “Al Hayat” said Hamas has informed Egypt that its politburo chief Khaled Mashaal would not visit Egypt if a breakthrough wasn’t made in the Shalit affair.
The talks are also aimed at resolving the crisis in the Palestinian Authority, but the Hamas official downplayed the impact of Egypt’s efforts to advance the establishment of a Palestinian unity government, saying, “Cairo is operating in accordance with the international community’s terms,” which demand Hamas’ unconditional recognition of Israel, the acceptance of past agreements and the denouncing of terror.
These conditions have all been rejected by Hamas.
Suleiman is also scheduled to discuss a possible deal for Shalit’s release with a senior American Intelligence delegation, headed by CIA representatives.
MK Yuval Steinitz (Likud) said during a Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee meeting Tuesday that “the information on the deal being formed regarding the release of soldier Gilad Shalit points at a complete bankruptcy against Hamas and terror.”
“For the first time since the Oslo agreement, Israel is releasing terrorists in exchange for hostages kidnapped by Palestinian organizations,” he said.
Ilan Marciano contributed to the report