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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Shin Bet chief to replace sacked Gilad

Tue, 24 Feb 2009 10:31:12 GMT | PressTV

Shin Bet Chief Yuval Diskin
Israel's Shin Bet Chief Yuval Diskin has been appointed to replace Amos Gilad as Israel's chief negotiator for a truce with Hamas.

The head of the Shin Bet spy agency, Yuval Diskin, has been named as the new Gaza truce mediator, Israeli media reported Tuesday.

Outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Monday sacked Israel's emissary to Egypt, Amos Gilad, after a heated clash erupted between the two over a decision to make a ceasefire with the Hamas conditional on the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

Amos Gilad was quoted as harshly criticizing the prime minister for demanding that Shalit be released before Israel signs an Egypt-brokered truce agreement with the Palestinian Hamas.

According to Gilad, the decision by Olmert to set the release of Shalit as a precondition for a ceasefire undermined national security as it was an insult to Egypt.

Olmert announced that Egypt-brokered talks will now be conducted by a triumvirate, consisting of his diplomatic adviser Shalom Turgeman, Shin Bet security service chief Yuval Diskin and Ofer Dekel, who has been handling the talks on Shalit, Ha'aretz reported.

Hamas responded to Gilad's suspension by accusing Israel of acting in bad faith and urged Egypt to respond by opening its own border with Gaza.

"This shows that the Zionist occupation government has no intention of reaching an agreement on the calm or of concluding a prisoner swap," said Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum.

In exchange for Shalit, Hamas asks for the release of 1,400 jailed Palestinians, as well as the opening of all border-crossings into the blockaded Gaza Strip.

Hamas has demanded that the release of Shalit be negotiated as part of a separate prisoner exchange and that Shalit's release is not linked to opening the crossings.

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