Hamas Scoffs at Criticism of Shalit Swap: 'Abbas Couldn't Have Secured Such a Deal'

Top official Mahmoud Zahar says Palestinian President offered to release kidnapped IDF soldier in exchange for lifting the siege on Gaza, without releasing prisoners.

Hamas rejected on Sunday the Palestinian Authority's accusations that the deal to free Gilad Shalit in exchange for hundreds of Palestinian prisoners is insufficient since it does not include the release of many Fatah members.

Top Hamas official Mahmoud Zahar told Army Radio on Sunday that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas "negotiated with Israel for a million years and hasn't achieved a deal like this one."

Mahmoud Zahar - AP

Earlier on Sunday, Zahar told Al-Hayat newspaper that "throughout the negotiations, the Palestinian President offered that we release Shalit only in return for lifting the siege on Gaza and without releasing any [Palestinian] prisoners." According to Zahar, Hamas vehemently objected to this idea, "and so the Palestinian Authority has no right to voice criticism about who is released and how."

The Palestinian Authority welcomed the deal, yet complained about the fact that many prisoners, including Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti, were not included. A Palestinian source told Al-Hayat that the main obstacle to Barghouti's release is the friction between the Palestinian Authority and Israel.

On Friday, the head of Hamas' Damascus-based political bureau, Khaled Meshal, wrapped up a round of talks in the Egyptian capital and returned to Syria. He met with officials including Egyptian intelligence chief Murad Muwafi.

The names of the Palestinian prisoners to be released as part of the Shalit swap deal were published on the website of the Israel Prison Service early Sunday morning, to allow for opponents of the deal to present petitions to Israel's High Court against its implementation.