Hamas Official: Internal Israeli Pressure Will Spark Movement on Shalit Deal

Moussa Abu Marzouk tells London-based Al-Hayat that Hamas is interested in deal on captured IDF soldier, but group's stance unchanged.

Hamas official Moussa Abu Marzouk believes that internal pressure in Israel and changes in the composition of the Israeli negotiating team will lead to positive movement toward reaching a prisoner exchange deal that will include the release of captured IDF soldier Gilad Shalit.

In an interview with the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper, Abu Marzouk, the deputy head of Hamas' political bureau, said that Islamic movement is interested in completing a prisoner exchange agreement but emphasized that Hamas' position on the terms of a deal have not changed.

Hamas official Moussa Abu Marzouk Dec. 29, 2008 (AP)
Hamas official Moussa Abu MarzoukAP

According to the Al-Hayat report, the head of Hamas' military wing Ahmed al-Jabari left Cairo on Monday and returned to the Gaza Strip after a visit during which he met with Abu Marzouk and Egyptian intelligence officials responsible for mediating the Shalit deal.

The report included no details about a breakthrough or progress toward a deal. It was reported, however, that Egyptian mediators asked to hear from Hamas leaders the organization's final position on the terms of a deal.

Also Wednesday, the Palestinian Ma'an News Agency reported that telecommunications (internet, mobile phones and international landlines) were cut off in the Gaza Strip for a number of hours late Tuesday.