Hamas: Israel will retreat on stance in Shalit deal
Hamas says Shalit talks over, unclear when they will resume; urges Egypt to declare Israel guilty for deal's failure.
Hamas officials said Wednesday that the Islamist group was not willing to give up its demands in a prisoner swap deal that would see the release of abducted Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit.
"We believe the occupation [Israel] is going to retreat, said Osama Muzini," a Hamas spokesman.
Following the failure of intensive weekend talks in Cairo, group spokesman Ayman Taha said "Hamas is sticking to its demands," adding a threat that Hamas would try to capture more Israeli soldiers.
Hamas official Salah al-Bardawil said on Wednesday that talks with Israel over a prisoner swap in exchange for abducted Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit were completely over, according to Israel Radio.
Bardwail told reporters at a press conference in the Gaza Strip that it was unclear when the negotiations would be renewed, but added that his Islamist group did not see the case as closed.
Meanwhile, the group's military wing said it might harden demands in future talks.
Earlier Wednesday, Hamas called on Egypt Wednesday to declare Israel responsible for the failure of talks aimed at finalizing a prisoner exchange and Shalit's release.
"It is up to Egypt, which oversaw the negotiations, to publish a clear stance and to expose to the world how the Zionists thwarted the deal," the Palestinian Islamic group said in a message published in the London-based Arabic-language daily al-Hayat.
Hamas claims the bone of contention between it and Israel was over Israel's insistence on deporting senior Hamas prisoners, rather than allowing them to return to their to their homes in the West Bank and Gaza, and not because of a dispute over the actual number of prisoners to be released.
Israeli negotiators Ofer Dekel and Yuval Diskin said Hamas hardened its stance and insisted upon the release of terrorists that Israel has no intention of letting out of prison.
Hamas officials told al-Hayat that Israel offered to deport 90 prisoners from the West Bank and 30 prisoners from the Gaza Strip.
Al-Hayat also reported that senior Hamas officials have threatened to capture more Israeli soldiers in order to free Palestinian prisoners. They were quoted as saying that "If Israel continues to drag its feet, Gilad Shalit will suffer the same fate as Ron Arad."