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Monday, March 30, 2009

Hamas Detainees' Meeting on Shalit Deal Approved by Israel

30/03/2009 | reported in almanar

Senior Hamas members jailed in the Zionist entity held a meeting last week at the Ketziot Prison on negotiations for prisoner swap deal in exchange for captured Israeli occupation soldier Gilad Shalit.

The meeting was approved of in advance by the Israeli defense establishment, it emerged on Sunday, despite Israel's moves to toughen conditions for Hamas detainees in order to pressure the Islamic resistance group to relax its demands and free Shalit.

According to Palestinian sources, the meeting was arranged by two Israeli officials in coordination with a few of Hamas' jailed leaders. Details of the meeting have not yet been released.

The Israeli defense establishment apparently gave its approval with the hope that such lenience would encourage Hamas to show flexibility in the number of detainees it is demanding for Shalit, who has been in Palestinian captivity since he was captured in 2006.

Meanwhile, Hamas official Ayman Taha on Sunday warned that negotiations over a prisoner swap in exchange for Shalit "would not remain open forever."

"We can't promise that the Shalit case will stay open forever," he said in an interview aired on the Nazareth-based radio station Al-Shams.

"It's possible that we will announce the end of negotiations and the freezing of all contacts until further notice, and Shalit's fate will remain unknown," he added. "We have no intention of changing our demands."

Taha denied reports of progress in the negotiations for Shalit, saying such speculations of progress were unsubstantiated. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's government has already completed its term, he said, adding that there was no chance for a deal to be secured before the next coalition took its place.

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