Saturday, February 21, 2009

Israel and Hamas holding indirect talks in Paris

"Israeli sources reported Thursday that the real indirect prisoner-swap talks between Hamas and Israel are being held in the French Capital, Paris, and not in Egypt. The Israeli side is represented by Ofar Dekel, Israel’s Prime Minister Envoy, who ran indirect German-mediated talks with Hezbollah, while France is running Qatari-mediated talks with Hamas.

Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, reported Friday that Qatar promised the French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, to put pressure on Hamas in order to lower its demands.

Haaretz added that Qatar previously mediated in the case of the captured Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, and received from France a letter that was written by the parents of Shalit; Qatar handed the letter to Hamas.

Two days ago, Dekel returned from France after conducting a trip that included detailed talks on Shalit and the prisoner swap deal. The Middle East online daily (Asharq Alawsat) reported that Dekel presented an Israeli proposal for running a marathon with Hamas via a third party.

Israeli political sources reported that Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, informed French officials that Likud party head, Benjamin Netanyahu, who was officially asked to form the new Israeli government, showed approval for implementing a prisoner-swap deal with Hamas.

Netanyahu said that he would approve the release of 1,100 Palestinian detainees in exchange for the release of Shalit, but also stated that he would approve this deal if it happens while Olmert is still in power, and added that he cannot guarantee continued swap deal talks after he takes office....... "

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