The exiled political chief of the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas has accused Israel of refusing to release Arab prisoners in exchange for a captured soldier. "The idea is to free (Israeli soldier Gilad) Shalit and that Israel would then release detainees in a political context," Khaled Meshaal said in an interview with the Al-Hayat newspaper on Thursday.
Meshaal said Hamas wants the release of 1,000 detainees including women and children and that Israel had "refused the principle of a exchange." The Damascus-based leader also accused Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of "hindering the agreement."
Meshaal also reiterated Hamas' refusal to agree to conditions required by the Middle East quartet of the United States, European Union, Russia and the United Nations in order to restore international funding to the Hamas-led Palestinian government. "We have said that we will not submit to the quartet's conditions because they are unjust in principle and we refuse to link pin our destiny on the conditions of the enemy."
Meshaal said that past Palestinian and Arab leaders who agreed to those deals "received nothing solid on the ground... Why repeat the experiences of others if they achieved nothing?"