The hesitation of Ehud Olmert to order the movement of ground troops into northern Gaza for unspecified diplomatic initiatives now can be understood. Reports have Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak demanding that Bashar Assad expel Hamas from Syria if the terrorist group does not release IDF soldier Gilad Shalit:
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak demanded from his Syrian counterpart Bashar Assad to deport the Syrian-based Hamas leadership unless it agrees to release kidnapped IDF soldier Cpl. Gilad Shalit, Palestinian sources said on Friday.
The demand was made in the context of a compromise that Egypt was attempting to draft between the Israel and Hamas, whose Damascus leader, Khaled Mashaal was demanding that thousands of Palestinian detainees, held in Israeli prisons, be released. Mubarak warned Mashaal that his position was leading the Palestinians to disaster, Israel Radio reported.
According to the Palestinians, the Egyptian compromise calls for the withdrawal of Israeli troops from the Gaza Strip, as well as the release of prisoners who were already scheduled to be released within the next year.
Meanwhile, Mubarak stated in an interview to Egypt’s leading pro-government newspaper, Al-Ahram that Shalit’s kidnappers have agreed to his conditional release, but Israel has not yet accepted their terms. …
The president said he had asked Prime Minister Ehud Olmert “not to hurry” the military offensive in Gaza, but to “give additional time to find a peaceful solution to the problem of the kidnapped soldier.”
The compromise still relies on Israel’s release of prisoners convicted in court for attacks against them, and the Israelis are probably not terribly enthusiastic about trading them for someone abducted by terrorists. It still rewards the act of kidnapping IDF soldiers, something that will guarantee more kidnappings. If the Israelis don’t jump at this deal, it’s hard to blame them.
On the other hand, having Mubarak point out publicly that Hamas started the problem and that their policies are to blame for the current situation certainly represents some progress. The Israelis would love nothing more that to have top Hamas terrorist Khaled Mashaal flushed from his cave. Given Hamas’ history of negotiations, they could easily welch on any deal, in which case Mubarak’s call to expel Hamas would be given even more force.
Hamas had better hope that Shalit remains in good health. It looks like their southern neighbor has had enough of their leadership in Gaza, and Shalit’s death might be the last straw.