Shalit Talks Still Stalled

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CBNNews.com - JERUSALEM, Israel - Major General Amos Gilad, head of the Defense Ministry's Diplomatic Military Bureau, said the release of captured Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Corporal Gilad Shalit is still a long ways off.

Shalit was abducted by Palestinian terrorists during a cross-border attack on June 25, 2006, at an IDF outpost near the Kerem Shalom border crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip. Two soldiers were killed and three wounded in the attack.

Gilad said the temporary cease-fire with Hamas created a better atmosphere to conduct negotiations, but there's been very little progress in the Egyptian-mediated talks for the past several months.

"Since the truce, we are discussing [the prisoner swap] more seriously, but I am impressed only by results," the general told a group of foreign diplomats Wednesday.

"We are not close to the release of Gilad Shalit," he said.

According to Gilad, many defense officials believe stalled talks will not be revived until a new Israeli government is in place.

That process will begin after the Kadima party primaries next week, when the party's new chairman will try to form a coalition.

Meanwhile, defense officials hinted earlier in the week that Israel might resume counter-terror operations in Gaza if Hamas refuses to move the prisoner swap forward.

In response, senior Hamas official Mahmoud al-Zahar told the London-based Asharq al-Awsat paper that a resumption of Israeli military action in Gaza would result in more kidnappings.

More kidnappings, said al-Zahar, would guarantee the release of more Palestinian prisoners.

Hamas has upped its ante for Shalit's release to 1,500 prisoners, which includes a list of 450 names submitted by the terror group.

Sources: The Associated Press, The Jerusalem Post

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