New mediator in Shalit talks? Chinese news agency Xinhua on Friday reported that Turkey is mediating along with Egypt in negotiations between Israel and Hamas to release kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit.Meanwhile, Palestinian sources said secret talks have only commenced and therefore it is too early to report on any new developments.
The sources noted that Egypt is officially mediating between the sides, and refused to comment on the level of Turkish involvement.
Two weeks ago London-based al-Hayat newspaper reported that German mediator Gerhard Konrad will be replaced by a French or Turkish mediator, if Egypt agrees.
On Thursday, the United States placed the Army of Islam, a Palestinian group based in the Gaza Strip and tied to Shalit's kidnapping, on its official terrorism blacklist.
"Has previously worked with Hamas and is attempting to develop closer al-Qaeda contacts," the State Department said in a statement, noting that the group had released a eulogy for al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden after he was killed in Pakistan during a raid by US forces on May 2.
Also this week, Noam and Aviva Shalit, the parents of captive soldier Gilad Shalit sent a letter to the prime minister and defense and finance ministers demanding explanations for the decision to transfer the frozen tax funds to the Palestinian Authority without first receiving information on their son.
"The Shalit family is distressed by the fact that the Israeli government once again hurried to fold and release the PA funds after the finance minister rushed to announce they would be frozen last week," the Shalits noted.
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