Hamas: Israel Stalling Prisoner Swap

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An expected prisoner swap through which captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit would be freed in exchange for 1450 Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails is being blocked by Israel, Hamas said today.

Citing that Hamas’ demands were impossible to meet, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said that his cabinet was in agreement on the issue. In response, Hamas has said that more soldiers will be kidnapped in order to urge Israel to reconsider its decision; there is fear that this revelation could hinder any negotiations to bring peace to the Gaza Strip. Olmert has categorically stated that no proposal for a prisoner swap will be offered to Hamas at this time.

Israel accused Hamas of imposing further conditions for the swap at ongoing talks in Cairo, where Egypt is moderating the exchange; the Palestinian movement has denied this, saying that they simply stuck by their original demands. Osama al-Muzini, of the Palestinian Islamic Hamas movement, said: “When we stick to our demands, I think this doesn’t make the demands harder or put obstacles.”

Blame is being projected by both sides, and at this time it looks as though a compromise is far from being reached.

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