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Hamas: direct talks on Shalit unacceptable
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19:26, October 29, 2008

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Islamic Hamas movement on Wednesday renewed its rejection to hold direct talks with any Israeli side in a bid to exchange prisoners.

"We won't hold any direct talks with any Israeli side no matter it was from the right or the left to achieve the swap," said Abu Obaida, a spokesman for Hamas military wing.

His statements were in response to an Arab member of the Israeli Knesset who said that the leftist groups in Israel would present an initiative for Hamas to release Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in exchange for a number of Palestinian prisoners.

The parliamentarian, Abbas Zakor, added that the leftist groups would send representatives to meet with Hamas leaders in Gaza Strip.

But Abu Obaida said Hamas "was ready to use several options and can discuss the initiative through mediators, not directly with the initiative organizers."

Egypt has been mediating between Hamas and Israel since the Corporal Gilad Shalit was kidnapped in a cross-border raid near Gaza Strip in 2006. The talks nearly stopped due to Hamas' insistence to decide on the names of the Palestinian prisoners who would be released din exchange for Shalit.

Hamas demands Israel to free more than 1,000 Palestinians in exchange for the soldier.


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