NAZARETH, (PIC)– Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper has learned that behind the scenes Israel has been engaging in talks through mediators, seeking to at least start negotiations with Hamas on a Shalit 2 prisoner swap deal. “Hamas wants a ‘Shalit Deal 2,’ with the release of hundreds of prisoners,” a senior Israeli official said, alluding to the unofficial exchanges. But that is not the group’s only condition. It also demands an “entry fee” to even engage in negotiations in the form of the release of 50 security prisoners arrested during “Operation Brother’s Keeper,” the newspaper added. Hamas’s demand for “entry fees” was first reported by Arab newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat several months ago, and has now been confirmed for the first time by an Israeli official, it further stated. “The public in Israel has started the difficult internal debate (about the issue) too soon,” the senior official said. “We’re not willing to pay for signs of life, as it means we’ll have to meet any precondition.” Israel, the mediators were told, was no longer willing to pay a high price in prisoner exchange deals particularly in light of the fact that, in the case of Goldin and Shaul, there is no doubt that the negotiation will be over bodies. “The attempt to tie the agreement with Turkey to the talks for the return of the bodies and the release of the civilians is not relevant, and shows the lack of understanding of the other side,” the official explained. Israel is dealing, in this case, with the heads of Hamas’s armed wing—not with the organization’s political leadership—and it is they who are responsible first and foremost for the prisoners, the same sources added. In 2014 a video released by the spokesperson for al-Qassam Brigades announced the group’s abduction of four Israeli soldiers without providing further details on the issue.
(Source / 04.07.2016)