The London-based ‘al-Sharq al-Awsat’ reported on Saturday that Egyptian intelligence chief, General Omar Suleiman, was successful in persuading Israel to separate the demand to release kidnapped solider Gilad Shalit from the ceasefire negotiations with armed groups in the Gaza Strip.
According to the report Suleiman has pledged Shalit’s captivity will be the first order of business on the agenda immediately after the truce is agreed upon.
Hamas has accepted Suleiman’s proposal and stressed they viewed the efforts to secure a calm in the region and Shalit’s release as two separate issues. Hamas further said the price for Shalit was known to all those involved.
Meanwhile a delegation of Hamas officials is scheduled to arrive in Cairo later in the day to hear Israel’s response to the truce proposal from Suleiman following the talks held there during the week by Maj. Gen. Amos Gilad, head of the Defense Ministry's Security-Diplomatic Bureau.
Hamas’ weekly news journal ‘al-Risala’ reports the Hamas delegation is set to accept the ceasefire deal only if it includes an Israeli commitment to open the border crossings to Gaza.
During a press conference held in Gaza in honor of those killed in the Strip by IDF operations, Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh told reporters that the organization's delegation to Cairo would soon hear "Israel's answer about the ceasefire, and whether it will accept the conditions we have demanded – the opening of border crossings and the halting of all aggression."
Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahar also participated in the conference, and said that the ceasefire "could begin very soon," even within the next two weeks. "It depends on Israel. We are ready," he said. However he also remarked that Hamas would wait to hear what Egypt had to say on the matter before making any decisions.
The news agencies also contributed to this report