Shalit Negotiations on Hold Indefinitely

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- Renewed Egyptian-mediated negotiations on a prisoner swap for captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit reached an impasse again Wednesday.

The announcement came after Damascus-based Khaled Meshaal arrived in Cairo, the London-based Arabic-language daily, al-Hayat reported.

Meshaal led a Hamas delegation to Cairo, primarily to discuss the stalled formation of a unity coalition with the Palestinian Authority's Fatah faction. 

"The prisoner swap was discussed on the margins of the meeting," an unnamed Egyptian official told al-Hayat.

The third round of talks, which had been scheduled for next week, were postponed indefinitely, the official said.
 
"Each party is interested in getting the best deal they can," he said, adding that they were "determined to see this deal through and…would try to push it forward."

There have been many such stalemates since Shalit was kidnapped by a Hamas-led Palestinian terror cell on June 25, 2006. The terrorists tunneled under Israel's border with the Gaza Strip to attack an army outpost. Two soldiers were killed, three wounded  killing two soldiers and injuring three others.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appointed Mossad (secret service) official David Meidan to lead the Israeli delegation, while Hamas appointed Izz al-Din head Ahmed Jaabari as its chief negotiator.

Meanwhile, senior Hamas operative Osama Hamdan said "Israel's extreme position…has become significantly more flexible in light of Hamas' resoluteness regarding its position and demands," the Israeli daily Ha'aretz reported.

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