Hamas has rejected a prisoner swap proposal by the Israeli premier as deceitful, saying the movement wants the release of all the prisoners it has named in exchange for a captured Israeli soldier.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a live address on Thursday said that Tel Aviv was willing to release 1,000 prisoners in exchange for Gilad Shalit.
Shalit was arrested by Palestinian fighters in a cross border operation in June 2006, after he had infiltrated into Palestinian territory.
Netanyahu said he has agreed to the German mediation, which called for the release of 1,000 prisoners in exchange for Shalit, adding that he was “ready for immediate implementation.”
The hawkish prime minister said, however, that Israel would not meet any demand from Hamas, which has disclosed the list of 1,000 prisoners it wants released.
Netanyahu said he would not agree to the release of some 450 high-profile prisoners because they “will greatly strengthen Hamas’s leadership.”
Hamas, in response, said it was important as to who would be released and not how many. “Netanyahu is trying to delude Israeli public opinion and deceive the people,” said Ayman Taha, a senior Hamas spokesman.
In the past negotiations, Taha said, Israel had rejected most of those named by Hamas it wants released.