Israel vows not to free terror icons for Shalit
Israel said on Sunday that it would not free "terrorist icons" as part of a prisoner swap deal currently under discussion with Hamas to secure the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, local daily Ha'aretz reported.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the declaration, adding that his country would stand firm on its pledge to see some of the "terrorists" set for release expelled from the West Bank, said the report posted on the daily's website, Xinhua reported.
Hamas demands the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners, held in Israeli jails, in exchange for the release of Shalit, who was captured by Gaza militants in 2006.
Following weeks of perceived advances in talks between Israel and Hamas over the prisoner exchange and the ensuing blame game over who was holding up the deal, Hamas deputy chief Moussa Abu Marzouk on Sunday for the first time blamed the German mediator for the stalled negotiations, according to the London-based Arabic daily Al Hayat.
In an interview with the newspaper, Abu Marzouk said, "there were certain actions and moves the mediator should have taken, but didn't," adding that the mediator "could have been more resolute in his efforts to broker a compromise between the sides."
Abu Marzouk also blamed Netanyahu for stalling the negotiations.
"Even (the previous Israeli Prime Minister Ehud) Olmert didn't backtrack like Netanyahu, but neither one of them implements agreements reached in talks," he said, adding that "If the talks fail, Netanyahu will be responsible."
Last week, Abu Marzouk said that the German mediator "is not the first mediator, and not the last."
On Thursday, Ha'aretz reported that Netanyahu has sent a message to Hamas declaring that the team negotiating the prisoner exchange would be granted no more flexibility regarding the release of "dangerous terrorists" to the West Bank
Netanyahu's position is the final, said the report, citing sources in the Prime Minister's Office.
The prime minister insists that very dangerous terrorists, the ones with blood on their hands, will not be released to places in which they might endanger the lives of Israeli citizens, the sources were quoted as saying.