Hamas: Israel Becoming 'Flexible' on Shalit

As Meshaal arrives in Cairo, Hamas official claims Israel is willing to allow released terrorists to move to Judea and Samaria.

Elad Benari,

Gilad Shalit
Gilad Shalit
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal arrived in Cairo on Tuesday amid reports that a new round of talks on a prisoner swap with Israel was due to start in Egypt, Reuters reported.

A security official in Egypt told the news agency that Meshaal, who arrived in Cairo with a delegation from Hamas, met with Egyptian intelligence officials and discussed reconciliation between Hamas and the Fatah Movement led by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

The source claimed the discussions “touched” on the issue of a prisoner swap with Israel that would see the release of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

“The meeting dealt with an assortment of issues, mainly the Palestinian reconciliation,” the official claimed, adding, “The prisoner swap was discussed on the margins of the meeting.”

On Monday it was reported that Israel and Hamas resumed negotiations over the release of Shalit, who has been held incommunicado by Hamas for over five years.

The London-based Al-Hayat newspaper reported that Israel’s emissary, David Meidan, and Hamas terror chief Ahmed Jaabari were in Egypt to conduct indirect negotiations on the Shalit issue.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak confirmed Tuesday that there is “a kernel of facts behind rumors about negotiations on the subject of Gilad Shalit,” but would not elaborate, saying only: “We need to maintain self-control.”

Hamas has been demanding the release of hundreds of Palestinian Authority terror prisoners held by Israel in exchange for Shalit.

Meanwhile, Hamas politburo member Osama Hamdan said Tuesday that Israel has become more flexible in its position on the Shalit issue.

Speaking with the Gaza-based Falastin newspaper, Hamdan said that Israel has “revealed a clear flexibility in the face of Hamas’ intransigent stance.” He added that Egypt is assisting in the negotiations.

Hamdan claimed Israel’s “flexibility” is reflected in the fact that it is now agreeing to have a greater number of released terrorists return to their homes in the PA-controlled areas of Judea and Samaria, rather than expelling them to Gaza or abroad. Such a move would place more Israelis in danger, particularly those living in Jewish Judea and Samaria communities, if the released terrorists attempt to carry out new attacks.

Hamdan's claims have not been confirmed by other sources. The Egyptian source who spoke to Reuters said that “there is no progress on the Shalit file at the moment.”