Hamas: Israel Retreated From Its 'Extreme Position' on Shalit Deal

Senior Hamas official says Israel has been showing much more flexibility regarding its demands in a prisoner exchange deal to secure the release of captured IDF soldier Gilad Shalit.

Hamas senior official Osama Hamdan said Tuesday that Israel has shown significant flexibility in its stance regarding a prisoner exchange deal on captured IDF soldier Gilad Shalit.

"Israel's extreme position regarding the deal has become significantly more flexible in light of Hamas' resoluteness regarding its position and demands," Hamdan told the newspaper "Palestine", which is identified with the Hamas organization.

Gilad Shalit cardboard figures
Tess Scheflan

Hamdan added that Israel has substantially backed down from the extreme conditions it had demanded in order to carry the deal.

"If it was up to Hamas, we could have reached a deal within one round of negotiations," Hamdan added, saying his organization wants to retrieve its prisoners to "their natural place."

Hamdan said that the German mediator in the talks to secure the release of Shalit is trying to achieve solutions and that Egypt has shown great desire to carry out the deal. However, he claimed that there is no new developments that would indicate that negotiations are producing an agreement between the two sides.

Earlier on Tuesday, the London-based Arabic daily Al-Hayat reported that Hamas leader Khaled Meshal was in Cairo for a third round of indirect talks with Israel over a prisoner swap deal.

Meanwhile, Defense Minister Ehud Barak confirmed Tuesday that there was "a grain of truth" to reports of renewed negotiations taking place in Cairo for a prisoner swap deal to secure the release of Shalit.

Barak told Israel's 103 FM, however, that despite the validity of the rumors he "preferred not to say anything [about the negotiations], because it doesn't help."