Will Gilad return soon?
Photo: Gil Yohanan

Israel: Ball in Hamas' court

Israeli officials say decision on Gilad Shalit's release, reopening of Gaza crossings in Hamas' hands at this time; 'Gilad can be released within days, and two days later crossings will be fully opened,' source in Jerusalem says

The decision on whether to release Gilad Shalit and prompt the reopening of the Gaza crossings is in Hamas' hands, officials in Jerusalem said Wednesday afternoon.


"Should the terror organization want to, Gilad can be released within days, and two days later the crossings will be fully opened," a source in Jerusalem said in the wake of the government's decision to insist on Shalit's release before reopening the crossings.


"As noted, the ball is in Hamas' court," an Israeli official said. "If they want to do it, Gilad Shalit will be home in no time, the Palestinian prisoners will be released, and the crossings will be opened."


Based on intelligence reports, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert believes that Hamas needs a lull at this time and is greatly interested in seeing the crossings reopened, so it can rebuild Gaza and rehabilitate itself. The PM said he is willing to send his special envoy Ofer Dekel to Cairo as early as Thursday morning.


"Ofer will sit in his room at the Cairo hotel, a Hamas representative will sit in another room, and the Egyptians will mediate," a source in Jerusalem said. "They won't move until an understanding is reached…they won't get out of there until we see white smoke and secure agreements regarding Shalit's release."


However, disagreements still persist over some of the prisoners demanded by Hamas in exchange for Shalit. Israel said it is unwilling to release detainees it defines as "arch-terrorists."


פרסום ראשון: 02.18.09, 17:41
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