Gilad Shalit's father and brother
Photo: Gil Yohanan

Cairo expects 'creativity' on Shalit talks

Source involved in negotiations for captive soldier's release says Egypt wants Hamas to take 'creative steps' to facilitate prisoner exchange deal. 'Missing out on this deal over 40 or 50 names would be a great shame,' he adds

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert called a special cabinet meeting to brief his ministers on the impasse in Israel's negotiations with Hamas regarding the release of kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, but sources familiar with the negotiations said Tuesday that Egypt still expected Hamas to "take creative steps" in order to facilitate a prisoner exchange.


The Prime Minister's Office announced Monday that "Hamas has toughened its stance, reneged on the understandings that have already been reached and has made some radical demands". But sources close to the Cairo talks said Egypt expects Hamas to elasticize its position on the prisoners' list, which included several names Israel deems problematic.


"The Egyptians have made it clear to Hamas that there are thousands of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli prisons and that it is more than possible to find hundreds – if not thousands – among them who could be made eligible for release," said a source.


"Hamas will have to decide if it wants to forfeit the entire deal over a group of names it can easily replace… missing out on this deal over 40 or 50 names would be a great shame."


Earlier Tuesday, Olmert's special emissary to the negotiations in Cairo, Ofer Dekel, briefed the Shalit family on the talks. "The current government will apparently not be able to bring Gilad back. The prime minister has failed in this regard," Noam Shalit, the captive soldier's father, said afterwards.


Disappointment over the failed negotiations was also noted in the diplomatic arena: The French Foreign Ministry issued as official statement saying Paris found the situation to be "disconcerting."


The statement did not hold either party responsible for the negotiations failure, adding only that the French government "still hopes that Egypt's efforts (to broker the deal) will be successful." Gilad Shalit holds a dual Israeli-French citizenship.  


פרסום ראשון: 03.17.09, 17:07
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