Israeli stalling over prisoners blocks Shalit deal: Hamas

CAIRO - Israeli objections to releasing certain prisoners are blocking a swap deal in which an Israeli soldier captured three years would be freed, an official of the Palestinian movement Hamas said on Friday.
The deal is supposed to see the exchange of hundreds of Palestinians, including 450 chosen by Hamas, for soldier Gilad Shalit.

(AFP/File/David Buimovitch)
(AFP/File/David Buimovitch)
But negotiations are blocked on three main points, the Hamas official told the daily Al-Hayat in an interview published on Friday.
"The negotiations on the Shalit deal face three obstacles including Israel's objection to 50 prisoners included in the list of 450" presented by Hamas, the official said.
Israel is also insisting that 130 of the prisoners be expelled from the Palestinian territories and it refuses to release 22 Arab-Israeli prisoners, he said.
He denied recent reports Shalit had been brought to Egypt as part of the deal, saying "we have not yet agreed a deal, let alone begun the implementation."
Both Hamas and Israel have been secretive about the details of any deal to release Shalit, captured in a cross-border raid from Gaza in 2006 by militants including Hamas fighters.
Egypt and Germany have been brokering the talks, but Cairo has taken more of a backseat lately, the official said.
"The Egyptian role in the negotiations has become one of a sponsor, and the negotiations at this time are concentrated between Israel and (Hamas) via the German mediator," the official said.

Saturday, December 5th 2009

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