Sunday, November 08, 2009

Hamas commends Israel for Shalit efforts

'Current gov't continuously occupied with swap deal, in contrast to former gov't,' says Hamas official

Roee Nahmias

Hamas signaled it was ready to press for a prisoner swap deal for the release of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit Saturday. In an interview with the Israeli-Arab news site Al-Arab, senior Hamas official Mahmoud al-Zahar said that "if Israel is interested in a swap deal to put an end to this affair, we are ready from now".

Earlier a source affiliated with the negotiations for Shalit's release told Ynet that Hamas is expected to take a more positive stance in talks in an attempt to reach a successful deal while Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas admitted failure by retiring from politics.

The source said Hamas was aiming at gaining ground with the Palestinian people and would thus be willing to make sacrifices in regards to the siege on Gaza and the prisoners demanded by the organization in return for the captive soldier.

But al-Zahar said Abbas's resignation had nothing to do with talks on Shalit. "The current Israeli government is continuously occupying itself with a swap deal, in contrast with the previous government, which would send an envoy and then disappear for months," he said.

He refused to comment further and said there was "a full blackout" of the details of the negotiations.

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