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Sunday, March 22, 2009

Israel fails to win Hamas OK over Shalit

Sun, 22 Mar 2009 10:27:42 GMT | PressTV

Israel fails to win Hamas' ok for the release of its captive soldier by refusing to free five of the Palestinian prisoners Hamas has demanded.

According to al-Hayat daily, Israel agreed to release all but five prisoners demanded by Hamas in prisoner swap talks last week in Cairo.

According to the newspaper, negotiations reached a dead end when Tel Aviv ruled out release of Ahmad Sa'adat, the Secretary General of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine; Ibrahim Khaled, commander of the Hamas military wing; Abdallah Barghouti; Hassan Salameh; and Amana Muna.

Israeli officials including Premier Ehud Olmert have been under public pressure at home to free Shalit.

Meanwhile, Israel Radio quoted Palestinian sources on Sunday as saying that they expect talks for Shalit's release to resume in the coming days.

Mousa Abu Marzouk, Hamas deputy leader in exile, said on Saturday that the Palestinian movement is willing to restart negotiations for a prisoner exchange, and that Hamas would like to reach an agreement as quickly as possible.

He slammed Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert for his "inability to bring a deal to a close", as the number of prisoners to be released - 450 - was agreed upon a year and a half ago via Egypt.

The possible prisoner exchange could be another victory for Hamas.

On Saturday, an unnamed Egyptian source criticized Israel's stance during the negotiations.

He said Israel insists to deport 200 Palestinian prisoners on Hamas' list to other Arab or Western nations with which Hamas has no diplomatic ties, actually putting the detainees under house arrest.

Gilad Shalit was captured by Hamas fighters in the Gaza Strip in 2006. Hamas has demanded the release of 450 Palestinian prisoners in return for Shalit's freedom.

Shalit's parents yesterday ended a two-week protest camping outside Olmert's house.

"It's been a thousand days since government officials and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert sent Gilad on a mission, and they haven't found a way to free him. You have two more weeks to bring him back before it's too late. Don't give us explanations about why that's impossible."

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