Israeli sources reported on Monday that the Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, met in Jerusalem with the Egyptian Intelligence Chief, Omar Suleiman, for nearly ninety minutes and informed his that his government does not intend to declare any truce with Hamas without an agreement on releasing the captured corporal Gilad Shalit. The sources added that Olmert linked the issue of freeing Shalit with a truce deal between the Palestinian fighters and Israel. He confirmed that some of the conditions of this deal are stopping armed smuggling into Gaza and stopping Hamas’ escalating military force.
Sources close to Olmert’s office stated that he told Suleiman that the Israeli army would not halt its operations in the West Bank and that this issue n not related to a truce deal in Gaza.
Suleiman promised to deliver the message to Hamas as soon as possible and said that he will inform Israel of the movement’s response.
Media sources in Israel stated that Suleiman rejected during a meeting with the Israeli Minister of Trade, Eli Yishai, to link the issue of releasing Shalit with a truce deal.
He told Yishai that the first stage should be a period of calm which will be considered as an important foundation for prisoner swap talks.
Meanwhile, spokesperson of Hamas, Ayman Taha, said that Israel is working hard in order to foil all truce efforts, and added that the occupation s already placing obstacles in front of Suleiman in order to foil any agreement with Israel.
In an interview with the Qatar-based Al Jazeera satellite news channel, Taha said that Hamas is not the problem and that the real problem is the occupation which is trying to avoid implementing its obligations, and placing obstacles in front of all truce efforts.
Taha stated that Hamas does not want to keep Shalit captive, adding that the movement wants to release him n the framework of a prisoner swap deal.
“Our demand is clear, we do not want to keep Shalit captive forever”, Taha added, “Israel must free Palestinian detainees in exchange for releasing Shalit”.
Responding to a question regarding the firing of homemade shells into adjacent Israel areas, Taha said that “homemade shells are not a crime, the crime in the ongoing Israel attacks against our people”.
He added that if a truce deal is reached and officially declared, then all factions would be committed to it.