Shalit's father: 'U.S. not interested in striking prisoner exchange deal'
Father of abducted IDF soldier says a deal was drafted 2 months ago, passed over to Hamas for approval.
Noam Shalit, father of captured Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit, criticized the U.S. administration on Thursday for preventing the completion of a prisoner exchange that would see the release of his son, also blaming Hamas internal power struggles for the stagnation in talks.
At a Tel Aviv conference, Noam Shalit claimed that "unfortunately we have received sentiments from the U.S. government that express discomfort with the prisoner swap deal."
Shalid added that the U.S. administration had been "dropping hints to the Israeli decision makers not to accept such a prisoner swap as it might harm Abbas's political position and stability in the Palestinian Authority."
The father of the captured IDF soldier also blamed Hamas for the inability to complete a deal, saying that "due to the Hamas leaders' personal interests - which are not necessarily similar to those of the Palestinian civilians and citizens of Gaza - and their internal battles, they have refused to approve a deal which has been drafted through hard work of the German negotiating team, and to free their own people."
"The only people who suffer from the siege are the Gazans, while the Hamas leadership enjoys the money that is sent to them from various sources," he added.
"The have no regard for their citizens, and they have easy access to food supplies," Shalit continued.
The father of the abducted soldier said that the German negotiator drafted a prisoner swap deal over two months ago, with both sides' cooperation. "The Israeli government approved the deal, which was in turn passed to Hamas's for approval," Shalit said.
"This was the first time in over three and a half years that a serious and extensive offer for a prisoner's swap was drafted and taken to Hamas for approval," Shalit added.
"To my dismay, ever since the offer was taken to them two months ago, they have hurried to reply, as they are not the ones who are suffering, as stated, but they are the ones who are holding everyone captive," Shalit said.
On Wednesday Channel 2 news reported that negotiations between Israel and the Hamas are expected to restart shortly with the German mediator.
The mediator, Gerhard Conrad, is expected in the region by the end of February.
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