Friday, July 18, 2008

Hamas Ups the Stakes in Prisoner Exchange

Abducted soldier Gilad Shalit continues waiting for his homecoming as negotiations have stalled. Hamas originally planned to wait until after Israel completed its prisoner swap with Hezbollah to continue negotiating Shalit's release. On Wednesday, Israel released five prisoners to Hezbollah in exchange for the bodies of two IDF soldiers abducted two years ago. But many feared that if the prisoner exchange was successful, Hamas would make more demands of Israel in exchange for Shalit.

These fears may be warranted as Hamas has now become more firm in its demands.

Hamas originally asked for the release of some 800 prisoners. Israel approved 71 of those names, and Hamas seemed amenable to continuing negotiations. But now that Hezbollah has received five prisoners for two dead bodies, Hamas may be wondering how much a live soldier is worth.

Haaretz says:
Israel and Hamas have not yet agreed to renew negotiations over the release of kidnapped Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit, despite the completion of the Hezbollah prisoner swap and the relative quiet on the southern front that were supposed to advance talks on a swap with Hamas.

Hamas seems now to be refusing to back down from the list of hundreds of prisoners whose release it demands. However, Israel has only approved 71 names on the list.

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