Nasrallah denies reports about new proposal to exchange prisoners with Israel
The chief of Lebanon's Hizbullah denied reports that German mediators had proposed an exchange of an Israeli held by his movement for 100 Lebanese and Palestinian prisoners.
"I only heard of the exchange ... through the media, although I have been following the case from the start," Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah told Al-Manar, Hizbullah's television station. "This offer has never been put to us in the negotiations. It is something new which we have read about in the newspapers, and the German delegation has not conveyed any such offer to us," he said.
Nasrallah aired "these rumors aim to give the impression that the Sharon government is serious in the negotiations and making progress," he said. "We know that the families of the Israeli prisoners are exerting pressure even though the Sharon government has announced the death of the three (Israeli) soldiers" who were captured by Hizbullah in October 2000, he said.
Hizbullah has rejected a German proposal for an exchange, the Lebanese newspaper Al-Mustaqbal, owned by Prime Minister Rafic Al Hariri, said Thursday. "The exchange of prisoners between Israel and Hizbullah has not yet been concluded because of Hizbullah's refusal to accept the German mediator's offer," said the daily.
Meanwhile, Israeli sources said Friday a deal for a prisoner swap with Hizbullah, including the return of businessman Elhanan Tennenbaum and the bodies of three soldiers abducted in October of 2000 is near. The sources added that "the ball is in the Hizbullah's court," Israel Radio reported.
West Bank Fatah head Marwan Barghouti will be exiled from the area and not released to return to the PA territories as part of the exchange, reports said.
Barghouti assented to the deal, according to his lawyer, Jawad Bolus, who doubted in an Army Radio interview that the swap would take place before the beginning of his client's trial.
The agreement was initialed within the last several days, and awaits the final agreement by Hizbullah, according to the radio report. (Albawaba.com)
© 2002 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)