|Negotiations begin again to exchange political prisoners for captured soldier|
|11.10.08 - 11:55|
Ramallah / PNN – Negotiations to exchange the captured Israeli soldier for a short list of Palestinian political prisoners resumed with no result. The French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner is on his way to Cairo to discuss the issue.
Al Qassam Brigades spokesman Abu Obeida told the Al Sharq al Awsat newspaper that no Israeli proposal has been agreed to.
He said that Hamas maintains its condition to exchange the soldier for more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners, the ill, women and children.
Israeli security sources say that there is more going on than is made public. According to sources the heavy military attack that Israeli forces have planned on the Gaza Strip is being held off because of soldier Gilad Shalit whose release they reportedly believe would be compromised.
A breakthrough on the stalled exchange is essential according to the Egyptian diplomats who are working to broker a deal. Hamas has submitted several draft lists of Palestinians to be exchanged for the soldier, but the Israeli side has issued repeated rejections. A Hamas source says that despite pressures from Cairo to capitulate on its conditions, the party has not changed its position.
French Foreign Minister Kouchner arrived in Cairo yesterday for talks that are focusing mainly on the issue of Shalit. Sources indicate that Hamas has agreed to resume the talks, however Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar refused on Tuesday to confirm or deny. The Israelis reportedly went from agreeing to only 30 names to 220.
Al Sharq al Awsat also stated via information from an Israeli source that the "Israeli army knew of the impending capture of Shalit hours before its implementation, but did nothing to prevent it." Shin Bet officers interrogated two young men and received the information, specifically from a 21 year old from Rafah who gave details of the entire plan to use a tunnel dug under Karem Abu Salem. The soldier was captured in June 2006.
There are approximately 11,000 Palestinians in Israeli prisons.
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