Egypt demands Israel speed up Shalit’s deal

August 17, 2008 4:43 AM George Rishmawi Arab World, News Report, Truce 0

Egyptian demanded Israel to speed up talks and increase efforts to end the file of the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, captured in the Gaza Strip.Israeli newspaper Yedeoth Ahronot, reported that Egypt’s intelligence chief, Omar Suleiman, demanded Israeli officials responsible for Shalit’s file, Amos Gilad and Ofer Diegle, to intensify efforts to reach a swap deal with the Palestinians.

Talks over the swap deal have reached a dead lock two weeks ago, as Israel rejected Hamas’ conditions, however, the source reported that an Israeli delegation headed to Egypt to resume talks earlier this week.

Hamas demands that prisoners with high sentences to be included in the deal, saying that Israel paid a high price to retrieve bodies of dead soldiers in their swap deal with Hezbollah, and it should be ready to pay a higher price to retrieve a living soldier, Yedeoth Ahronot added.

Israeli officials believe that keeping Shalit in Gaza provides protection to Hamas leaders, as local observers believe that Israeli may consider renewing the targeted killing policy against Hamas leaders once Shalit is released.

Israel also continues to target Palestinian residential areas with their machine gun fire. The Shalit’s focus group comprised of a number of Palestinian factions have decided to delegate some people to Egypt to update Egyptian officials with the ongoing Israeli violations of the cease fire agreement, between Hamas and iSrael.

Moreover, Israel continue to seal the Gaza Strip claiming that this would prevent Hamas from smuggling Shalit outside of the coastal region. The closure has be enforced since Shalit was captured in June 2006, resulting in devastating situation in the Gaza Strip.

Over 230 Palestniian patients have died as a result of the closure, for lack of medical supplies and for restrictions on movements of patients to Egypt for medical treatment.

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George Rishmawi

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