Hamas political bureau chief in Syria, Khaled Mashal, is expected to
travel to Egypt soon for talks on a prisoner swap deal with Israel. The
deal could see the release of hundreds of Palestinian detainees in
exchange for the captured Israeli soldier in Gaza, Gilad Shalit.
Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesperson in Gaza said that Mashal was set to travel to Cairo for decisive decisions, but added that there was no time frame for the visit.
Meanwhile, an Egyptian newspaper said that Mashal could travel to Egypt as soon as next week.
The soldier, Gilad Shalit, was captured in an attack carried by three resistance groups, including Hamas' armed wing, on June 25. Two Israeli soldiers, and two fighters were killed in the atack.
The groups holding Shalit captive demanded the release of 1400 Palestinian detainees, including all child and women detainees in Israeli prisons. Israel refused the offer and said that the soldier should be freed before it will consider any prisoner swap.
Egypt holds an essential role in mediation between Israel and the Palestinians. Last week the Israeli Minister of Infrastructure, Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, held talks in Cairo and expressed his approval for a framework deal presented by Egypt.
Israeli newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth, reported that Mashal was subjected to an increasing pressure from Syria to agree to a deal mediated by Egypt.
Israeli sources reported that Egypt is also attempting to link the release of the captured Israeli soldier with a long-term truce with Israel, and the formation of a Palestinian government of professionals.
Also, Palestinians Minister of Information, Yousef Rizqa, confirmed that the Egyptian Intelligence Chief, Omar Suleiman, managed to achieve a positive position from Mashal, during his visit to Syria.
Moreover, the Al Quds Al Arabi newspaper, based in London, reported that a change in Hamas' position might appear soon, and that this change could reduce the gap between president Abbas and Hamas regarding the national unity government.
Regarding the possibility that Abbas might call for early elections, Rizqa stated that the movement was democratically elected by the majority of the Palestinian people.
“We do not fear the elections”, Rizqa said, “If we succeed in the new elections, will they call for third or fourth elections?!”.