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Hamas appears prepared to act as reasonably as ever, the Jerusalem Post reports. Egypt announced that Hamas had refused to accept a deal to free captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, even after the Mubarak government tried offering up to 1,100 Palestinian prisoners in exchange:
Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit said on Monday that Israel had offered to release up to 1,000 prisoners in exchange for captured soldier Cpl. Gilad Shalit, but Hamas had turned down the proposal.
"[There was] a deal that could have freed 900 to 1,000 prisoners, but sadly they have decided to keep holding him," he told Al-Arabiyeh Television.
Egypt has been mediating between Israel and Hamas over the release of Shalit, who was abducted at Kerem Shalom on the Gaza border on June 25.
Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz told Israel Radio on Sunday that the IDF might step up military operations in the Gaza Strip, to put pressure on Hamas to release Shalit and halt the firing of rockets at Israel.
Khaled Mashaal must think he has some advantage over Israel, an impression that an 1100-1 swap might certainly leave. He has to think that he will gain something, because he's passing up an opportunity to score big political points against Mahmoud Abbas. If Hamas can free 1,100 Palestinian prisoners with a single IDF soldier, their stock would certainly rise, and they can use all the support they can get as Hamas and Fatah appear ready again to start a civil war.
Does Mashaal think that he can get more prisoners out of Israeli jails? If so, he may miscalculate Israeli sentiment. Ehud Olmert has already seen his approval ratings drop through the floor and into the ground below. Further unrest and demands by Hamas terrorists will only strengthen the hand of Benjamin Netanyahu -- who will be very unlikely to agree to an 1100-1 swap, let alone anything more lopsided than that.
The Israelis have already signaled that they will escalate the war in Gaza if Shalit is not released soon. Egypt, which will have to deal with the refugee crisis that will spark, wants desperately to find some way to reduce tensions in Gaza. Unless the Israelis get Shalit back and an end to the missile attacks, they will not succeed. Egypt should put pressure on Bashar Assad in order to get their proxy Mashaal to accept some deal very soon, before the Israelis lose all patience.Sphere It View blog reactions
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"Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit said on Monday that Israel had offered to release up to 1,000 prisoners in exchange for captured soldier Cpl. Gilad Shalit, but Hamas had turned down the proposal," the Jerusalem Post reports (via Captain's... [Read More]
Tracked on October 3, 2006 10:03 AM
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