GAZA, March 18 (Xinhua) — A senior Islamic Hamas movement announced on Wednesday that the indirect talks, mediated by Egypt, with Israel on the release of captive Israeli corporal Gilad Shalit have stopped.
Salah el-Bardawil, Hamas parliamentary block spokesman, told a news conference in Gaza that “Israel is the one which is fully responsible for the collapse of the talks to finalize the prisoners’ exchange deal.”
“We had presented a list of the prisoners’ names to Israel through Egypt thirty months ago. We didn’t change it and we didn’t add to it anything new,” he said in response to Israeli claims that Hamas has elevated its demands.
He added that the captors of Shalit “insist that 450 prisoners with high sentences terms should be released at a first stage, and then children, women, lawmakers and ministers would be freed in a second stage.”
Hamas armed wing al-Qassam Brigades, and two minor armed groups abducted Shalit in the summer of 2006 during an armed attack carried out against an Israeli army base southeast of the Gaza Strip.
“Israel has been all the time following the policy procrastination and thwarting the Egyptian efforts aimed at finalizing the deal,” said el-Bardawil, who mocked the Israeli threats to tighten the blockade on the Gaza Strip.
Indirect intensive marathon talks held between Israel and Hamas in Egypt had failed to reach an agreement to free Shalit for the release of 1,450 Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails.
A Hamas sources closed to the dialogue, who spoke on condition of anonymity had earlier said that the disagreement was on 90 prisoners that Israel wanted to exile them to Syria, Yemen and other Arab countries.
El-Bardawil called on Egypt to official declare who was responsible for thwarting the deal, adding “We call on our prisoners and our people to be more patient to face the Israeli threats.”