A delegation of Hamas strongmen is set to discuss the latest proposal for a Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange deal with organization political chiefs in Damascus, the London-based newspaper Al-Hayat reported today.Earlier this month, Al-Hayat reported that the German Shalit talks mediator Gerhard Conrad concluded a two-day visit to the Gaza Strip where he held talks with senior Hamas leaders.
A top Hamas official told the daily at the time that Conrad had reportedly presented a series of new ideas to Hamas in a renewed effort to reach a deal with Israel over a prisoner swap that would see Shalit freed after more than four years in Palestinian captivity.
In what would seem to be another development in this latest chain of events, Al-Hayat reported on Friday that a delegation of Gaza’s Hamas leaders was to travel to Damascus next week in order to discuss the details of Conrad’s proposals with the organizations political chiefs, led by Khaled Meshal.
The report also added that the German mediator was due back in Gaza soon in order to receive Hamas’ official response for his ideas.
The delegation is to be comprised of Hamas Gaza strongmen such as Mahmoud a-Zahar and Khalil al-Hayeh, and would represent the first time Egypt has allowed an official Hamas party to exit through the Rafah crossing in over a year.
An Egyptian source told Haaretz that, while there wasn’t a dramatic development in the negotiations geared at securing Shalit’s realize, different offers required decisions to be made by leaders on both sides.
The Source reiterated that these were not new proposals, but only minor changes to offers that had already been discussed.