Hamas is accusing Israel of blocking Egyptian-brokered efforts for a 18-month truce in the Gaza Strip. "This is a deliberate attempt to foil the negotiations," Ossama Hamdan, Hamas representative in Lebanon, told the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera TV.
Israeli outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said on Saturday that his country would not approve any truce with Hamas without the release of Gilad Shalt an Israeli soldier taken prisoner by Palestinian groups in 2006.
"The Shalit issue was never on the table," insists Hamdan. Hamdan held Israel responsible for a possible collapse of the truce agreement. "It just can not backtrack on every agreement like this." Over the weekend, Hamas officials said that an agreement with Israel on a long-term cease-fire in Gaza could be announced within days.