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Friday, June 30, 2006

Mubarak demands that Syria expel Meshaal

We finally have some progress.

The terms of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's compromise for obtaining Gilad Shalit's release have been leaked to the press and one of them is quite interesting: Mubarak has demanded that Syrian President Bashar Assad expel Hamas kingpin Khaled Meshaal and the rest of the Hamas leadership from Syria unless they agree to release kidnapped IDF soldier Cpl. Gilad Shalit, Palestinian sources said on Friday.

Israel Radio is also reporting that
Mubarak warned Mashaal that his position demanding that thousands of Palestinian detainees, held in Israeli prisons, be released was leading the Palestinians to disaster.

According to the Palestinians, the Egyptian compromise calls for the withdrawal of Israeli troops from the Gaza Strip, as well as the release of prisoners who were already scheduled to be released within the next year. The sources claimed that the initiative was not rejected by Israel.

In Jerusalem, a senior Israeli Foreign Ministry official, Gideon Meir, said Israel did not know of such an offer.

Reached just after midnight on Friday morning, Meir told The Associated Press that Israel would have no comment until daybreak.

"In general Israel's stance is, as the prime minister said earlier, that the soldier will only be released unconditionally and there will be no negotiations with a gang of terrorists and criminals who abducted a soldier from Israeli territory," Meir said.

Meanwhile, according to YNet, Israel denies the claim made in the name of the Egyptian president in the al-Aharam newspaper, according to which it did not answer conditions set by Hamas for the release of the kidnapped soldier. The Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem also rejected the claim that Mubarak asked Israel to delay Operation Summer Rains. But HaAretz implies that the invasion of Northern Gaza was postponed at Egypt's request.

A friend of the Shalit family expressed hope following the involvement of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in efforts to free the Israeli captive.

“The knowledge that President Mubarak has gotten into the thick of things has instilled driving force and given us a tangible feeling that Gilad is a live and well,” Ilana Levi-Zarihan, a neighbor and friend of the Shalit family told Ynet Friday morning.

HaAretz is also reporting that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has rejected a plan presented to him by Comrade Peretz and 'the IDF' for a ground operation in Gaza, saying that Olmert has asked them to revise the plan to be "prolonged and exhausting."


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