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Hamas reportedly turns down prisoner swap

JTA

December 31, 2009 | 2:54 pm

Hamas has not accepted Israel’s counter-offer for a prisoner swap but indirect negotiations will continue, a senior Hamas official said.

A Hamas delegation from Gaza returned from Damascus after two-days of marathon talks on the deal. The delegation will likely give its official answer to the German mediator in coming days.

“Hamas didn’t close the door for Shalit’s deal,” Mahmoud Zahar, a member of the Hamas politburo told reporters Thursday, Haaretz reported. “Debates and discussions are still going on in Hamas although we have some reservations on the recent Israeli offer.”

The deal would see hundreds of Palestinian prisoners released from Israeli prisons in exchange for captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

Israel has reportedly refused to release a number of senior leaders of Hamas who were involved in the killing of Israelis, and it would not allow more than 100 of the prisoners return to the West Bank, exile them to Gaza or abroad.

Meanwhile, Hamas said Wednesday that it uncovered a plot by Israel to find the location where Shalit is being held using Palestinian “collaborators.”

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