France continues to push for the inclusion of Salah Hamouri in a prisoner exchange deal for the release of captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said speaking before the Senate of France on Thursday.
Hamouri, a Palestinian who also holds French citizenship, has been incarcerated in Israel since 2005, over his involvement in a plot to assassinate Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef.
Last summer Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made it clear to French President Nicolas Sarkozy, that Israel has no intention of releasing Hamouri in an exchange deal with Hamas.
"We will certainly apply all pressure possible to have Salah Hamouri included in the list," Kouchner said, adding that Hamouri has already served four out of the six years he was sentenced to, and he should receive early parole. "I hope this happens," he said.
It should be noted that France played a significant role in talks on the matter of Gilad Shalit in the past three-and-a-half years since his abduction, and that the captive soldier also holds dual French-Israeli citizenship.
But it seems progress towards a deal is dragging. An al-Sharq Al-Awsat report published earlier Thursday said Israel refuses to release senior Hamas members currently serving sentences in Israel as part of a deal.
However, Palestinian sources considered to be credible and close to the negotiations told the paper that "the Hamas movement is inclined to agree to a deal in which Palestinian prisoners will be released in exchange for captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit."
The sources did not say how many Palestinian prisoners would be released in the swap.
Gilad Shalit was kidnapped into the Gaza Strip 1,271 days ago.