Hamas Rejects Prisoner Swap

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CBNNews.com - JERUSALEM, Israel - Outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert briefed Cabinet ministers Tuesday on the failed prisoner swap talks with Hamas for the release of IDF (Israel Defense Forces) Cpl. Gilad Shalit.

Olmert hoped the Cabinet would have been voting on a prisoner swap at Tuesday's meeting, but the Prime Minister's Office said Hamas upped the ante, rejecting Israel's offer.

"A deal cannot be finalized on such terms [demanded by Hamas] and there's nothing to vote on," one official in the Prime Minister's Office said Monday evening after Ofer Dekel and Shin Bet (General Security Agency) chief Yuval Diskin returned from negotiations in Cairo at 8:00 p.m.

Hamas blames Israel for the failed negotiations.

"The Israelis tried to play with the names [of prisoners] at the last moment and go back on names that were already agreed upon," one senior terrorist said.

"We don't know if this is a matter of internal constraints or internal conflicts, but it is the Israeli side that has toughened their stance and reversed the talks," he said.

Olmert tasked his military secretary, Major General Meir Kalifi with informing Shalit's parents that the talks had failed.

Meanwhile, Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas predicted that the Egyptian-mediated coalition talks with Hamas will fail.

Abbas instructed members of the Fatah delegation in Cairo on Sunday not to yield to Hamas's demands, according to YNet news.

"I will not allow a situation whereby the unity government will include ministers who cannot move freely between Gaza and the West Bank [Judea and Samaria]," Abbas said.

Additionally, a PA unity government must accept past agreements between Israel and the PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization).

Abbas said Hamas seemed to have no intention of yielding its rule in the Gaza Strip, while being interested in a power-sharing arrangement in the West Bank.

Source: YNet news

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