According to the German paper Der Spiegel, a prisoner swap deal between Israel and the elected government of the Palestinian people (represented by the Hamas party) was about to collapse due to the Israeli refusal to sign onto the agreement that they had negotiated.Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had been scheduled to sign the agreement at Christmas, but refused – even though the terms of the agreement had been negotiated for months and he had said that they were acceptable to him.

Instead of signing the carefully-worded agreement that Netanyahu and his negotiators had helped to draft, the Israeli Prime Minister presented a completely new ultimatum and demanded that the Palestinian negotiators sign it on the spot without any consultation. The new ultimatum rejected nearly all of the items that the Palestinian team had carefully negotiated.

In doing so, some Israelis said at the time that Netanyahu put the life of the one imprisoned Israeli, Gilad Shalit, in danger. Over 8,000 Palestinians are currently in Israeli detention camps, and while the Hamas negotiators for the Palestinian side had originally demanded the release of 1,000 of them, they had tentatively agreed to an exchange based on the release of just over 400 prisoners held by the Israeli government.

The German government picked up negotiations where the Egyptian mediators left off, but the Palestinian side accused the German team of not being neutral, and of taking the Israeli side on every issue.

Despite that accusation, the Palestinian negotiation team had agreed to another carefully worded document created after weeks of wrangling – but the Israeli top officials have allegedly once again rejected it out of hand.