Did Israel Scuttle Deal to Release Gilad Shalit?

July 16, 2009

The incarceration of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in the Gaza Strip – apparently by members of Hamas – has been used by Israel to tighten the blockade around the territory and to launch two attacks upon the Strip, costing hundreds of innocent lives.

Yet an interview with the Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak, suggests that Israel’s commitment to securing Shalit’s release is less than total. Hence, Netenyahu, as Olmert before, may be seeking to use Shalit as a pretext for continued intervention and repression of the Strip.

As AFP reports:

Mubarak, whose government has led efforts to broker the release of the young conscript seized by Palestinian militants in a cross-border raid in June 2006, told Yediot Aharonot that Shalit was about to be transferred to Egyptian safekeeping when Israel altered its terms for the envisaged prisoner swap.

“There are terms for ending the problem of Gilad Shalit and we were on the verge of resolving it but you delayed the matter,” Mubarak said in the interview, carried by Egypt’s official MENA news agency on Thursday evening.

“We were on the verge of receiving Shalit from Hamas and of putting him with us until you released some Palestinian (prisoners),” he said, referring to the Islamist group that controls Gaza.

“You kept saying we’ll release this one but not that one and the matter was complicated when you introduced new elements.”

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