Hamas says no prisoner swap imminent, despite Egyptian mediation

Daily News Egypt
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Associated Press

DAMASCUS, Syria: Six weeks after Hamas militants captured an Israeli soldier near Gaza and Egypt stepped in to mediate, a prisoner swap for Palestinians was still not imminent, a senior Hamas official said Saturday. Moussa Abu Marzouk, deputy head of Hamas political bureau, told The Associated Press that Egypt had put forth many ideas for resolving the standoff.

But so far there is nothing that could be a framework to get out of the crisis, he said. The exchange of prisoners is not coming soon.

Hamas militants snatched Cpl. Gilad Shalit, 19, in a raid into Israeli territory from Gaza on June 25. Israel responded by re-occupying parts of the coastal strip and kidnapping dozens of Hamas legislators. Days later, Egypt stepped in to try to mediate an end to the standoff.

Marzouk said Egypt had proposed swapping Shalit for 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. The deal would happen in two stages, with a batch of 500 women and children first, followed by 500 men, he said.

But Marzouk blamed Israel for the deadlock, saying Egypt had good ideas but that there were no signs Israel would agree.

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