Senior Hamas leader, Mousa Abu Marzouq, who is based in Damascus, told an Arab newspaper Sunday that Israel has refused an Egyptian-mediated ceasefire.
Speaking to the Al-Qabbas Kuwaiti newspaper, Abu Marzouk maintained that his party offered a comprehensive ceasefire with Israel that would include halt of Israeli actions against the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, yet Israel refused.

In the meantime, the Gaza-based Hamas senior member, Mushair Al-Masri, stated on Saturday that the captured Israeli soldier in Gaza, Gil’ad Shalit, won’t see the light until Israel agrees to releasing some 350 Palestinian prisoners, Hamas wants to see freed.

Shalit was captured by Hamas in June2006, during a cross-border attack, after the Israeli army kidnapped two Hamas operatives from the border Gaza town of Rafah, in southern Gaza Strip.

Khaled Masha’l, exiled supreme political leader of Hamas, had earlier said that Israel is to be blamed Israel over a deadlocked prisoners swap deal since last year, saying that ‘Hamas holds Shalit and deals with him in a good way, while Israel deals with Palestinian prisoners badly’.

Israel now holds approximately 11,500 Palestinian prisoners at various detention facilities and has not so far softened stance over their release.

Abu Marzouq pointed out that Hamas will consider participating in early legislative elections, but he refused early presidential elections, as President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah is said to be walking out soon.

The democratically-elected Hamas party took over Gaza in June2007 amidst a power struggle with Fatah party of President Abbas, who embraces peace talks with Israel. Hamas has shunned peace with Israel until Israel halts actions against the Gaza Strip and West Bank.