Report: Shalit mediator calls for urgent international action
German negotiator frustrated by Israel's rejection of prisoner swap deal with Hamas, Palestinian media say.
A German mediator attempting to negotiate the release of Gilad Shalit has called for urgent international intervention to free the captured Israeli soldier, according to Palestinian media reports Wednesday.
The Al-Quds Network news website reported that the negotiator had called for international pressure for a prisoner swap with Shalit's captors, Hamas, after becoming frustrated with Israeli refusals to back a proposed deal.
Internal factors were preventing Israeli ministers from signing off on an agreement to release hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Shalit, captured in a Hamas raid on the Gaza border in June 2006, the mediator reportedly said.
The intermediary also voiced deep concerns over the lack of progress in talks over the past few months.
Last week Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel was still interested in a prisoner exchange.
"We have yet to receive a response from Hamas," Netanyahu said. "We continue to work for [Shalit's] release but it is not always possible to reveal the details."
Israeli activists in the campaign for a deal with Hamas have stayed almost silent in recent weeks, following a high-profile publicity drive which compared Shalit to Ron Arad, an Israeli airman captured in Lebanon in 1986.
Activists told Haaretz that a decision to lower the campaign's profile had been taken by Shalit's father, Noam, who receives regular briefings on negotiations from the government.
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