Palestinians and Israelis exchange blame for failed prisoner deal
Palestinians and Israelis have placed blame on one another for the collapse of a deal to release captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who has been held in Gaza Strip since late June.
Palestinian Interior Minister Said Siyam, who discussed the issue with Hamas leaders while on a recent trip to Damascus, maintained that Israel had demanded the release of Shalit in exchange “for nothing.” The “deal failed or was halted because there are those who want to release Israeli soldier for nothing,” he was quoted as saying.
Siyam added that despite accusations by some that Syria had pressed for the stalling of Shalit’s release, it was Israel, not Syria that was behind the deal’s failure. "It's not true that the Hamas movement is under Syrian pressure to thwart the deal," he said according to the Arabic newspaper al-Hayat.
Siyam also rejected any reports that secret channels of negotiations existed between Hamas and Israel through third party Arab mediators.
Israeli sources, on the other hand, reported that Hamas was behind the deal’s collapse, and that Iran had transferred $50 million to the movement’s leadership in Damascus in order to thwart the release of Shalit, according to Yediot Ahronot daily.
Israel claims it was ready to release hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in return for the soldier’s release, but that an Iranian delegation secretly arrived in Damascus shortly before the agreement was finalized. The Iranians reportedly transferred the funds to exiled Hamas-leader Khaled Mashaal to stop the deal from pushing forward.
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