Shalit Talks / How Hamas Invited in the Germans

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak revealed the presence of German mediators in Shalit talks two weeks ago, apparently to the consternation of several of the parties involved.

Hamas reportedly pushed for a German mediating team after learning from Hezbollah about the country's work at negotiating with Israel.

A Palestinian news Web site, Falastin al-Yaum, reported that the Hamas leadership held talks with Hezbollah's leadership in Lebanon in order to receive guidance on the German mediation and learned about the previous role that the Germans played as mediators between the Shi'ite organization and Israel.

Mubarak was first to reveal two weeks ago, during his visit to Washington, that Germany was participating in the mediation, even though at the time he praised the cooperation between the two countries.

However, the announcement by the Egyptian president was not well received because the sides had agreed that there would be no leaks of the development to the outside.

Indeed, Israel, Hamas, Germany and the United States, in an unusual turn of events, had kept the matter under wraps, and Mubarak, apparently on his own, decided to break the silence.

While Damascus is not officially party to the negotiations over Shalit, in practice, Syria has significant influence over Hamas decision-making.

Syria is trying to capitalize politically on a possible deal, after France and the U.S. asked President Bashar Assad to contribute to the effort.

In July Mubarak agreed to dispatch a delegation to the Syrian capital, headed by Gen. Muhammad Ibrahim, in order to discuss Palestinian infighting.