Report: Mashaal to Okay Shalit Deal Next Week


mashaalHamas chief Khaled Mashaal is scheduled to arrive in Cairo next week to approve an agreement that will see captive IDF soldier Gilad Shalit returned to Israel in exchange for the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners, the London-based Arabic language newspaper Al-Hayat reported today. While in Cairo, Mashaal will meet a German mediator who is helping to formulate the deal between Israel and the Islamist group, the report said.

Mashaal will also try to jumpstart the stalled negotiations between Hamas and rival Palestinian faction Fatah, Al-Hayat reported.

Al-Hayat quoted Egyptian sources as saying that the German mediator has met with a Hamas delegation headed by former Hamas Foreign Minister Mahmoud al-Zahar in Cairo and Switzerland. One source said the deal requires only a few more “final touches” in order to be finalized.

“We almost finalized an agreement before the end of (former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud) Olmert’s term, but Israel’s stance caused difficulties, prompting Egypt to work with the German mediator to advance the agreement,” added the source.

A Hamas figure told the newspaper he feared the deal may fall through at the last moment. “Some international elements have an interest in thwarting the deal, as it would be considered an achievement for Hamas. They want to delay progress until the elections for the Palestinian Legislative Council,” he said.

The source added that the lifting of Israel’s siege on Gaza was a precondition for the deal’s approval.

Reports of significant progress in the negotiations on a possible prisoner exchange deal have been circulating for about a week. A senior Israeli official who accompanied Prime Minister Netanyahu on his visit to Berlin said Wednesday night that Germany carries a lot of weight in the attempts to advance Shalit’s release and that Israel welcomes this involvement.

Moreover, a senior Palestinian reporter wrote Wednesday that a prisoner exchange deal between Israel and Hamas was nearing completion.

“The recent numerous visits to Egypt conducted by political and military Hamas leaders, as well as the entrance into the game by the German negotiator, suggest that the Shalit deal is on its way to completion,” wrote Mustafa Sawaf, who is considered a Hamas affiliate.

Thursday evening saw the Shalit family mark the kidnapped soldier’s 23rd birthday – his fourth birthday since being abducted by Hamas – at his hometown of Mitzpe Hila, in northern Israel.

Gilad’s mother, Aviva Shalit, spoke on behalf of her family and asked her son to forgive her “for failing to protect you and prevent the great suffering you are experiencing, although it’s not under our control.

Shalit was kidnapped into Gaza on June 25, 2006.

{Ynet Report/Yair Israel}


  1. 1 person for HUNDREDS of Palestinians=tons more suicide bombers & terrorists available to kill & bomb israel CHAS V’SHALOM (not just kidnap but kill)