Hamas Official Says German Mediator Failed in Shalit Negotiations

The official says Gerhard Conrad will not return to negotiations after he failed to fulfill his role in advancing the talks, preferring to side with Netanyahu than convince him of details of the deal already agreed upon during Olmert's time as prime minister.

The deputy chairman of Hamas' political bureau said in a report Saturday that German mediator Gerhard Conrad completely failed to advance negotiations regarding the release of captive IDF soldier Gilad Shalit.

Deputy Chairman Moussa Abu Marzouk said that Conrad will not return to negotiations, following his failed efforts, the London-based Al-Hayat Arabic-language newspaper reported.

Gilad Shalit cardboard figures
Tess Scheflan

Abu Marzouk said that Conrad did not succeed in changing the stance of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but sided with his position instead.

The Hamas official told Al-Hayat that Conrad did not make enough of an effort to incorporate understandings that had already been agreed upon during Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's time as prime minister. He added that in the final stages of the deal's implementation, Conrad changed his mind regarding details that had been agreed upon during the Olmert government.

Abu Marzouk said that Hamas would not allow the negotiations to revert to square one.

In January, Al-Hayat reported that a delegation of Hamas strongmen reportedly discussed the latest proposal for a prisoner exchange deal with organization political chiefs in Damascus.

Earlier that month, the newspaper reported that Conrad concluded a two-day visit to the Gaza Strip where he held talks with senior Hamas leaders.

A top Hamas official told the daily at the time that Conrad had reportedly presented a series of new ideas to Hamas in a renewed effort to reach a deal with Israel over a prisoner swap that would see Shalit freed after more than four years in Palestinian captivity.