Prime Minister’s comment comes amid recent reports of renewed negotiations between Israel and Hamas geared toward the release of the IDF soldier,
abducted to Gaza in 2006
Talks over a deal for the release of Israel Defense Soldier Gilad Shalit have resumed, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday, amid recent rumors that Israel and Hamas have renewed contact with the German mediator.
Speaking to Army Radio, Netanyahu confirmed that Israel “renewed contact with the German mediator,” adding that Israel was “continuously working on the [Shalit] issue in a variety of ways.”
The premier also stressed his belief that renewed talks should be held behind closed doors, saying he didn’t think it was “effective to conduct talks in the media.”
Netanyahu’s comments came after Mousa Abu Marzook, deputy head of the Hamas political bureau in Damascus confirmed to the London daily Al-Hayat that talks over a deal for the release of the IDF soldier have resumed.
Abu Marzook’s statements were made following repeated denials from Hamas regarding a report published in Haaretz that the efforts on a deal to release the captive Israeli soldier had resumed through a German intermediary.
According to the Hamas politburo deputy, German mediator Gerhard Konrad met two weeks ago with Hamas figures in the Gaza Strip. In the interview with the Arabic-language newspaper, Abu Marzook confirmed that the meeting centered on the subject of Shalit but said that the situation is frozen. It is unclear what he meant by that statement.
Abu Marzook also refused to give details on the type of proposal, if any, which the German intelligence official introduced at the meeting.
The Hamas official described the meeting as a “presentation of positions,” and added that Konrad had come to the meeting after having met with senior Israeli officials.
Abu Marzook insisted that there has been no change in Hamas’ positions and that the group insists on the release of prisoners, many of whom Israel says have “blood on their hands,” – i.e. were involved in the killing of Israelis, and have been sentenced to life sentences or long periods of incarceration.
Shalit was kidnapped by Gaza militants in a cross-border raid in 2006 and has been held by Hamas since. Hamas has demanded the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli prisons in exchange for Shalit’s freedom.
The negotiations have been stuck in recent months following Conrad’s failure to reach a deal. The previous round of talks broke down due to Israel’s rejection of Hamas’s demands.
See Related: REPORT: GILAD SHALIT SWAP TALKS HAVE RESUMED
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