Hamas freezes negotiations over Gilad Shalit

Tuesday, August 12, 2008 |  Israel Today Staff

Hamas has put a stop to all negotiations with Israel over the fate of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who has been held in the Gaza Strip since being abducted in June 2006.

A Hamas official cited by Ha'aretz said the group is now making Israel's opening of all Gaza border crossings a prerequisite to continuing the talks, which despite Egyptian mediation had made little progress.

Israeli officials feared that Hamas was toughening its demands as a result of Israel's lopsided prisoner exchange with Lebanon's Hizballah terrorist militia last month. A number of experts warned that going through with the Hizballah swap would make the price for Shalit unreasonably high.

The last demand from Hamas before the talks broke down was the release of some 1,000 Palestinian terrorists from Israeli jails, including hundreds who had succeeded in murdering Jews.

Hamas has also sought to follow Hizballah's lead by replacing Egypt with German mediators.

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