Palestinian Sources: Egypt Renews Mediation Bid for Shalit Swap

Israeli diplomat Amos Gilad and head of Egyptian intelligence Minister Omar Suleiman hold successful talks, Palestinian news agencies report.

Egyptian sources confirmed that Egypt has renewed mediation efforts in negotiations between Israel and Hamas for the release of abducted Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit, Palestinian news agencies reported Saturday.

IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, captured by Hamas in 2006

Shalit was abducted in June 2006 by Hamas militants from Gaza in a cross-border raid. Hamas and Israel have been negotiating since then for his release, in talks mediated by Germany and Egypt.

According to the report, the development came after successful talks between Amos Gilad, who heads the diplomatic security bureau of the Defense Ministry, and head of Egyptian intelligence Minister Omar Suleiman earlier this week.

Hamas officials are expected to arive in Egypt on Saturday to discuss Israel's offers for a prisoner exchange deal that has come to a standstill since Egypt and the German mediator stopped mediation efforts between the two sides after continuous failure to achieve any progress on the issue.

Suleiman was responsible in the past for the relative success of the tahadiya (cease-fire) agreement, which granted the southern communities six months of quiet until December 19, 2008.

However, he was unable to bridge the gaps between Israel and Hamas in the matter of Gilad Shalit's release in Egyptian mediated talks last year. He was also unable to influence Yasser Arafat and Israel to stop the violent cycle of the second intifada and prevent the death of the Oslo Accord.

Meanwhile, Top Hamas official Khaled Meshal told Jordanian paper al-Sabil on Saturday that his party was willing to renew talks with Israel over a swap deal for Shalit's release.

According to the report, the Hamas was not willing to back down from any of its previous demands for the captured IDF soldier's release, which include the release of Hamas militants from Israeli prisons, which Israel has refused to release in the past.

Meshal said that "if one soldier is not enough we will work to capture more soldiers," Meshal added.