Fox News: New Hamas list meets Israel's demands
American network reports new list of 70 prisoners submitted by Palestinian organization meets criteria set by Jewish state for swap deal securing kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit's release. President Peres returns from Egypt, confirms progress made in talks
WASHINGTON – The Fox News network reported Sunday that a new list of 70 prisoners handed over to Israel by Hamas meets the criteria for a prisoner exchange deal, thus removing the last obstacle for such a deal, which may be implemented within the next few days.
According to the report, these 70 prisoners will replace 70 other prisoners out rejected by Israel in the past. A total of 450 Palestinians are slated to be released as part of the deal.
President Shimon Peres confirmed Sunday afternoon that progress had been made in talks aimed at securing the release of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit.
Speaking upon his return from a meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo, Peres said, "Negotiations are being held between the two sides, and I don't believe the negotiations should turn into a game of words. As we all know, progress has been made, and I hope it will lead to a positive ending."
Osama Hamdan, who is in charge of Hamas' foreign affairs, also said that a great deal of progress had been made in the Egyptian and German-mediated talks, but added that this progress was not enough for implementing a prison swap.
Hamdan noted that Hamas was serious in its efforts to finalize the deal, but attempted to lower expectations: "Hamas is very serious about this, but in the meantime it doesn’t seem like things are about to reach the happy ending, which will be reflected in the release of all prisoners as long as the head of the occupation government fails to accept the demands of the resistance.
"We are not talking about results as long as there is no implementation on the ground, but I can say that we are seriously monitoring the talks in a bid to reach the targets we set on the first day Zionist soldier Shalit was taken captive."
Hamdan denied that there was a link between the Shalit negotiations and a decision made by Palestinian organizations in the Gaza Strip to stop firing rockets at Israel. He said the decision was related to the desire to contribute to the Strip's rebuilding and had nothing to do with Shalit.
Ali Waked contributed to this report