Netanyahu casts doubt on possible Hamas deal

Published December 27th, 2009 - 05:21 GMT

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday said it was not clear whether his country would strike a prisoner swap deal with Hamas that would see hundreds of Palestinians released for a captured soldier. "At the moment there is no deal and it is not at all clear to me if there will be one," Netanyahu was quoted as telling ministers from his Likud party ahead of the weekly cabinet meeting.


"If we get a real proposal, I will bring it before the government, but we are not there yet and I don't know if we will get there," Netanyahu said, according to AFP. The Israeli leader said that the killing of a Jewish settler in a West Bank attack last week underscored fears that a prisoner release could lead to a new wave of violence.


The Israeli army said on Saturday that its forces killed three Palestinians in the city of Nablus who carried out the deadly attack, including one who was released from Israeli prison several years ago. "The fear that terrorists could return to terror activity is a key consideration in the negotiations on Gilad Shalit. The security of our citizens, especially those in Judaea and Samaria (West Bank) is cardinal," Netanyahu said.


"We want to have our prisoners released but ... We will not agree to expose our citizens to terrorism," he said.


Senior Hamas leader Ahmed Bahar said in Gaza on Sunday that Shalit would not be freed "unless the leaders of this criminal entity (Israel) yield to the conditions and demands of the resistance."


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