Photo: AP
Gilad Shalit
Photo: AP

Hamas says talks on Shalit deal suspended

Palestinian organization accuses Israel of delaying negotiations aimed at securing kidnapped IDF soldier's release, due to decision to close crossings following rocket fire. Senior Hamas member tells Ynet decision has yet to be made on whether to attend new round of talks in Cairo

Hamas' deputy politburo chief, Moussa Abu Marzouk, has said that his movement "has suspended the negotiations regarding (kidnapped IDF soldier) Gilad Shalit, due the Israeli decision to close the crossings in response to the firing of rockets into its territory," the London-based Arabis-Language al-Hayat newspaper reported Friday.


A senior Hamas member stated Friday in an interview with Ynet that Israel was delaying the talks aimed at securing Shalit's release. According to the source, the failure to reopen the crossings constitutes a violation of the ceasefire and prevents any progress in the talks.


Defense Minister Ehud Barak instructed the army on Thursday to close all the crossings between Israel and the Gaza Strip, after Palestinians fired a Qassam rocket into Israel.


Abu Marzouk stated that the Hamas delegation would not arrive in Cairo for the talks, as Israel has failed to meet its commitment included in the truce agreement and due to its decision to close the crossing in response to a rocket fired by Fatah members.


"It makes no sense that we launch negotiations while Israel fails to stick to the truce. This issue will be postponed until the Egyptians and the Israelis exert efforts in order to meet the ceasefire agreement, open the crossings and prevent Muhammad Dahlan (a derogatory nickname given to Fatah operatives in Gaza) from thwarting the truce… What's the use of a truce agreement if it can't be fulfilled?"


According to the senior Hamas source, the Israeli side has yet to form an opinion.


"We hear from the Egyptian side that (Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's delegate) Ofer Dekel is unauthorized for the time being to hold deep negotiations, as it is unclear which criteria are guiding the Israeli side. We, on our part, are making it clear that we demand all the names included in the list of 300 prisoners."


'Stop clouding the atmosphere'

The source said, however, that Hamas' stance may be made flexible, should Israel show that it is serious.


"This flexibility does not mean giving up on a large part of the names presented," the group member said. He added that the reports stating that the movement will not attend a round of talks with the Egyptians on Shalit next week were untrue.


"No decision has been made yet on whether to participate in the talks or not, but we demand that Israel stops playing with the truce and stops clouding the atmosphere, because this would be reflected negatively on the chance to advance the Shalit deal.


A senior Hamas figure said Thursday that the Islamist group refuses to pass on any additional signs of life, including tapes and letters, from Shalit as long as Israel remains adamant in its prerequisites for a prisoner exchange deal.


Osama al-Muzaini accused Israel of obstructing a possible prisoner swap under Egyptian mediation, saying "we've forced the enemy to accept our demands, but if the Israelis insist on not accepting them, we can hold on to Shalit for 20 years and never grow weary".


He added that "Israel's stubbornness on this issue will backfire and encourage the resistance groups to kidnap more soldiers."


The Hamas figure also claimed that Israeli intelligence failed in its attempt to detect Shalit's location in Gaza.


Roee Nahmias contributed to this report


פרסום ראשון: 07.04.08, 10:31
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