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Hamas Rejects Linking Prisoner Swap Deal to Reconciliation Proposed by Abbas

Hamas Rejects Linking Prisoner Swap Deal to Reconciliation Proposed by Abbas

Thursday, 10 June, 2021 - 09:00
A Palestinian on crutches passes yesterday in front of destroyed buildings in Gaza City (AFP)

Hamas has officially announced its readiness for striking a prisoner exchange deal with Israel, however, stressing that it refuses to relate the swap to any other Palestinian issue.

“We in Hamas are determined to conclude an exchange deal through which the heroic prisoners will be released, and the prisoners’ issue cannot be linked to any of the other matter,” said Hamas’ Gaza Spokesperson Abdullatif al-Qanou.

Qanou’s statement coincided with a high-ranking Hamas delegation headed by Ismail Haniyeh, head of the movement’s political bureau, holding talks in Cairo with senior officials in the Egyptian intelligence service.

Haniyeh’s discussions with Egyptian officers aimed to explore opportunities to advance a comprehensive agreement that includes internal Palestinian reconciliation and a prisoner exchange deal with Israel.

He also reviewed potential reconstruction efforts in Gaza and establishing an extended ceasefire.

It is noteworthy that Egyptian intelligence officers are also conducting negotiations with Fatah, the second-largest party in the Palestinian Legislative Council and Hamas’ political rival.

However, well-informed Palestinian sources confirmed to Asharq Al-Awsat that there are difficulties across the board and no real breakthrough.

“There is progress, there are talks, but there is no breakthrough on the exchange deal during these days because Israel is not ready now,” they said under the condition of anonymity.

Hamas is “waiting out” a transitional period within the Fatah-controlled Palestinian National Authority (PNA), sources revealed.

“This also applies to internal reconciliation, as there is dissatisfaction in Ramallah with the language in which (Hamas) spoke about reconciliation after the war, and there is no acceptance of its proposals,” Palestinian sources told Asharq Al-Awsat.

Yahya Sinwar, Hamas’ de facto ruler of Gaza, had described a region without Hamas as a “political barbershop.”

“His statements were rejects by Ramallah, which insists that reconciliation starts with enabling state institutions and elections,” said the sources, pointing out that bridging the gap can’t be achieved by what they labeled as “liberation organizations.”

It is noteworthy that the PNA, led by Mahmoud Abbas, has voiced its desire for concluding reconciliation negotiations with Hamas and forming a national unity government.

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