Negotiator Meets With Imprisoned Hamas Men

The prime minister's coordinator for prisoners and MIAs, Ofer Dekel, met over the weekend with a number of senior Hamas members incarcerated in an Israeli prison, Palestinian sources told Haaretz. Among the prisoners are members of the senior Hamas leadership whose release Hamas is demanding in exchange for freeing Gilad Shalit.

The prisoners at Hadarim Prison include Yihye Sanwar, a founder of the Hamas military wing whose brother Mohammed is among those holding Shalit, according to some sources. Abbas al-Sayad, one of the planners of the 2002 bombing of Netanya's Park Hotel, is also imprisoned at Hadarim.

The sources also said this is the second meeting Dekel has held with senior Hamas activists at Hadarim Prison in two weeks. Almost all the leaders of the movement are incarcerated in this facility.

Last week Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said talks would resume once quiet was restored in the Gaza Strip. Israel assumes progress will be made after Hamas' political wing exerts its authority over the military wing holding Shalit.

A deal has recently been reached between Israel and Hamas to swap some 450 prisoners for Shalit. Hamas submitted a list of 450 names, of which Israel agreed to approximately 50. Israel then demanded via the Egyptians that Hamas send a much longer list, so Israel could choose names from it.

Meanwhile sources close to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas said Qatar was trying to open a secret channel between Hamas and Israel to bring about a cease-fire without coordinating such a move with Abbas. Sources in Abbas' bureau expressed their anger at what they called "open support of the Qatari channel Al Jazeera for the Hamas movement."