Report: Mashaal Opposes Swap Deal

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mashaalThe Israeli offer for a prisoner exchange deal relayed to Hamas by a German mediator is “unacceptable,” a source in the Palestinian organization told the London-based Arabic-language al-Hayat newspaper today.

The source warned that “Israel will wait a long time if it fails to pay the price for the release of (kidnapped soldier Gilad) Shalit.”

According to another report, the Hamas leadership in Gaza wants to accept the latest offer, but the movement’s leadership in Damascus objects.

The source noted, however, that “the movement’s leaders are holding consultations and evaluating the situation in order to form a stand which will be relayed to the mediator.”

The source added that Hamas was willing “to show some flexibility in exchange for the release of a small and defined number of prisoners.” The source stressed that “most of those released must remain in the Palestinian territories, whether in the West Bank or Gaza. Deporting them outside Palestine is an unfit principle.”

The source described the latest Israeli offer as “a deportation deal rather than a prisoner release deal.” He said that Israel’s refusal to free senior prisoners affiliated with Hamas’ military wing – like Ibrahim Majed, Jamal Abu al-Hayja, Abdullah Barghouti, Abbas al-Sayyed and Hassan Salameh “means that Israel is not serious in the negotiations.”

According to the source, “This deal has caused us to be reluctant to accept the deal, as it has not given the movement anything from what it can receive.”

‘Israel refuses to free 9 prisoners’

The London-based al-Sharq al-Awsat newspaper reported that the two camps in Hamas are at odds on whether to accept Israel’s latest offer. Hamas members in Gaza are demanding that the deal be finalized in accordance with the Israeli proposal, while Hamas leaders in Damascus say a deal cannot be completed without the senior prisoners Israel refuses to free.

According to the report, a Hamas delegation led by Dr. Mahmoud al-Zahar will leave for Cairo today and head to Damascus in order to meet with organization leaders in Syria and form the movement’s stand on Israel’s latest offer.

According to the same sources, the Israeli proposal relayed by the German mediator appears to be more flexible and is willing to release all the names on the Hamas list, which includes 450 prisoners, apart for nine “heavy” prisoners. In addition, Israel seeks to deport abroad some 120 prisoners, who have been sentenced to life terms.

A source added that “Hamas is determined to release all the prisoners on the list.” The movement will accept the deportation principle, but demands that the prisoner will be the one to choose the destination and that all prisoners will not be deported to one European countries where they will all be supervised, as demanded by Israel.

According to the sources, Israel’s stand which negates the release of the nine prisoners, and Hamas’ stand which insists on the release of all prisoners, may delay the deal by several months.

“If Hamas accepts the Israeli offer, the completion of the deal will be announced in Cairo. The first stage of the deal – the release of 450 prisoners – will be implemented 24 hours later. After they are transferred to the German mediator, whether in the Gaza Strip or the West Bank, Shalit will be handed over to the Egyptians,” one of the sources said.

The al-Jazeera network reported Thursday that Israel had asked the German mediator to convince Hamas to allow it to send Shalit much needed provisions.

According to senior Palestinian sources quoted by the television station, Israel asked the mediator to convince the Islamist group to also allow it to arrange for a physician to visit the captive soldier.

Meanwhile, al-Jazeera reported of another change in the number of prisoners Israel is refusing to release as part of a prisoner exchange deal, currently numbering them at 11. According to the report, the 11 are Hamas, Fatah and Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) operatives.

After presenting a firm objection to Israel’s demand to have some of the released prisoners deported, Hamas sources appeared more flexible on Thursday, saying that if the prisoners themselves accept the deportation principle the deal could be finalized, as long as the deportation would be limited in time and the prisoners would eventually be allowed to return to their homes in the West Bank.

{Ynet/Yair Israel}


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