Saturday, July 19, 2008

Hamas: Egyptian negotiators too pro-Israeli; we'll see if Germany can get us a better deal for Schalit's release

Emboldened by the assymmetrical swap with Hizballah, Hamas wants more. "Hamas: Germany will get us a better deal on returning Schalit," by Khaled Abu Toameh for the Jerusalem Post, July 18: In the aftermath of Wednesday's prisoner swap between Israel and Hizbullah, there are increasing calls in Hamas to replace the Egyptian mediators with German intermediaries in the talks on abducted IDF soldier St.-Sgt. Gilad Schalit.

Several Hamas officials have been quoted over the past 24 hours as expressing deep disappointment with the way the Egyptians have been handling the Schalit mediation effort.

"The Egyptians have proved that they are unable to put enough pressure on Israel to accept our demands," one Hamas official reportedly said.

Another Hamas official said his movement was under the impression that the Egyptians "were on Israel's side more than on our side."

It may not be so much that Egyptians are trying to cut a great deal for Israel's sake as it is that they stand next in line after Israel to lose the most from a stronger, bolder Hamas movement in the Gaza Strip. Hamas has smuggled weapons continuously from the Egyptian side of the border, and has already blown open a border crossing with Egypt once. For that matter, an increase the stature of Hamas, which is itself an Muslim Brotherhood offshoot, could energize the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and add to the threat to the current regime (which, of course, is no prize either).

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