Hamas’ political leader Khaled Meshaal says Tel Aviv’s intransigence has put obstacles in the way of a prisoner swap deal with Israel.
Meshaal, the head of Hamas’ political bureau, noted that the Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, has done all it could for the deal to be implemented. However, he said, Hamas will not renounce its demands for the release of Palestinian prisoners.
The implementation of a prisoner exchange deal between Hamas and Israel is pending an Israeli decision. Israel, however, has kept mum about the deal.
Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority (PA) continues to monitor the negotiations with concern. Acting Palestinian Authority Chief Mahmoud Abbas said on Monday that the deal would not be completed this week due to the differences between the sides. Sources involved in talks say Palestinians have called on Tel Aviv and Washington to exclude ‘heavyweight’ prisoners Marwan Barghouti and Ahmed Saadat included in the first release stage.
Palestinian officials hope that Barghouti and Saadat will be released as part of the second stage. The status of Saadat and Barghouti is one of the most sensitive issues in the discussions on the Israeli prisoner Gilad Shalit deal. Palestinian Authority officials prefer not to see Hamas get credit for the release of senior prisoners.
Israel would likely release 980 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Shalit, who was apprehended by Hamas more than three years ago.
The government is likely to free the 450 prisoners that Hamas has asked for in exchange for Shalit, as well as an additional 530 prisoners, as a "gesture to the Palestinians."
The decision was made by the Israeli High Court of Justice, responding to a petition filed by Amagor Israeli group and three bereaved families against the prisoner swap deal.
The bereaved families wanted the court to reveal why the criteria for prisoner release were not made public, and why there is military censorship on information that should be available to the public.
More than 11,500 Palestinians, including women and children, are currently imprisoned in Israeli detention facilities, suffering harsh and life-threatening conditions.