Syrian-based Hamas leaders restated their demands Thursday that mediators first secure the release of Palestinian prisoners; only then would they free captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shilit. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said he will not discuss the issue of Palestinian prisoners until the question of Shilit’s release is resolved.

Although Olmert is eager to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud
Abbas, he reminded Abbas that negotiations must not be hasty,
especially since Hamas controls the Palestinian government, he said in
an interview with Israeli Radio Thursday. 

Abbas said on Thursday that they halted Egyptian mediation over talks
to free Shilit in response to Hamas’s request for new arbiters. 

The two leaders hope that talks will continue, but Olmert’s refusal to
negotiate with the Hamas government until it recognizes Israel, abides
by past peace deals and renounces violence has increased tensions,
stalling the process for another 9 months, which has been non existent
for the past several years. 

Olmert has not formally met Abbas since he took over former prime
minister Ariel Sharon’s position in January.  Olmert said he still
plans to unilaterally withdraw from parts of the West Bank, but would
like to see more extensive peace talks between the two sides, in hopes
to disregard his plan all together.   

Sourced from Haaretz