Hamas May Ease Trade Demands for Shalit


hamas-in-cairoPalestinian and Egyptian sources estimated today that the Hamas organization might soon relax its conditions and present a new list of prisoners for an exchange deal with Israel, which would secure the release of kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit. Defense Minister Ehud Barak has been invited for a meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Sunday. Ynet reports that in the past few days, Egypt has been exerting heavy pressure on the Hamas leadership to resume the talks for a swap deal. The Egyptians made it clear to the Gaza-controlling movement that it must relax its stances, and that the names of prisoners rejected by the Olmert government would not be accepted by the Netanyahu government.The Palestinian organization has officially declared that it would not change its list, and that signals received from the Palestinian street support the need not to leave out any name.

Ynet has learned, however, that the movement’s leaders are holding serious discussions on the best way to solve the Shalit affair with “maximum achievements” for Hamas.

The messages from Cairo link the kidnapped soldier’s matter with other issues, led by a significant ease of the blockade on Gaza and the acceptance of Hamas as a legitimate political element – not just in the Palestinian arena, but in the regional one as well.

Palestinian sources say that Hamas is looking for a way out which would honor the movement and allow it to be flexible. According to estimates, new lists will be turned over to Israel. The lists are expected to be similar to the ones rejected, but the sources say this will be the opening point of negotiations.

“Hamas saw the positive way in which it was mentioned in (President Barack) Obama’s speech,” one of the Palestinian sources said. “They see the meetings with (former President) Jimmy Carter and many international elements and feel that the momentum should not be missed and that the Shalit affair serves as an obstruction between them and opening up to the world and the international community.

“This is why they are trying to find the formula which will guarantee that they won’t lose the support on the street – and especially among families which will not see their loved ones releases if a deal is executed – and on the other hand, turning into a key power and perhaps even a leading one in the Palestinian arena,” the source added.

Such a move, the sources said, may improve Hamas’ status, which has been damaged in the past two years, ahead of possible elections in the Palestinian Authority.

Gilad Shalit was kidnapped into the Gaza Strip 1,090 days ago.

{Yair Alpert-Matzav.com Israel/Ynet}