GAZA, Dec. 19 (Xinhua) -- A senior Islamic Hamas movement official said on Saturday that the movement's indirect talks with Israel on finalizing a prisoners' swap deal have entered a "frozen stage" due to Israel's obstruction.
Mohamed Nazzal, a Damascus-based senior Hamas leader told the Gaza-based pro-Hamas daily Felastin that the talks over the release of 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit "is passing through a frozen stage."
The reason for this "is that Israel still rejected the release of a big number of prisoners that Hamas demanded to be released," said Nazzal. Media reports said last week that Israel refused to free 50 prisoners, who are involved in killing dozens of Israelis.
Nazzal voiced pessimism over finalizing the deal with Israel soon. Both Germany and Egypt, who are mediating between Hamas and Israel to finalize the deal, wanted to finalize it before the end of the year, according to Israeli media reports published on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Nazzal has also voiced non-optimism over achieving an inter-reconciliation deal between the feuding movements of Hamas and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas Fatah party, adding that the inter-Palestinian reconciliation "is in an impasse right now."
"The Palestinian reconciliation reached an impasse because Egypt insists rival factions sign a proposal Cairo presented despite Hamas' reservations on the offer," said Nazzal, adding that his movement "welcomes any proposal that help the two sides to overcome their differences and end the impasse."
However, a senior Fatah party leader said on Saturday that his movement rejects a local mediation to bury the hatchet with Islamic Hamas movement. "Fatah will not deal with any committee or side except the Egyptian mediation only," said Azzam al-Ahmad.
Al-Ahmad stressed that Fatah recognizes only an Egyptian proposal to reconcile with Hamas. The Islamic movement, controlling the Gaza Strip, refused to sign the Egyptian initiative and wanted Cairo to consider several reservations and amendments Hamas raised.
As a result, al-Ahmad said that the national Palestinian dialogue has shuddered to a halt "because Hamas refused to sign the Egyptian paper."
Last week, a group of independent Palestinians belonging to the Palestinian Reconciliation Committee met Hamas leaders in Gaza and discussed ways of resuming the dialogue to restore political unity to Gaza and the Fatah-ruled West Bank.
Al-Ahmad bitterly attacked the independents, saying that Fatah "will not allow unknown persons to seek a role at the expense of the Palestinian people and that the reconciliation will take place only through Egypt."
Expecting an imminent reconciliation "is only wishes and hopes that have no balance on the ground," Nazzal told the pro-Hamas daily published in Gaza.
Nazzal blamed Egypt, which sponsors the national Palestinian dialogue, on delaying a power-sharing pact between Hamas and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah party by insisting that Hamas must sign the Egyptian initiative.
The reservations of the Islamic movement, which took over Gaza by force in 2007, involve security matters, elections' date and the reforming of Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).
Hamas' parliamentary term ends in January 2010 but it refuses Abbas's calls for elections unless political unity is restored to the West Bank where Fatah holds sway.
For this, Nazzal said that the split between Gaza and the West Bank "will remain in place until a further notice," stressing that his movement "will not sign the Egyptian paper forcefully."
Asked about the metal underground fence that Egypt builds under the borders with the Gaza Strip, Nazzal said "Egypt should immediately stop building up the fence, which would suffocates Gaza Strip and double the population's suffering."
"The Egyptian people would never accept that their government tighten the siege on the Gaza Strip and make its population starving in order to please America and Israel," said Nazzal.
Meanwhile, Ayman Taha, a senior Islamic Hamas leader in Gaza said that deposed Prime Minister of Hamas in Gaza Ismail Haneya invited leaders of various factions to hold a wide meeting at his Gaza-based office on Sunday to discuss the reconciliation and the internal Palestinian impasse.
"This meeting will be held upon the request of prime minister Haneya, where representatives of all factions and independent figures, including Fatah party were invited to discuss issues related to the Israeli blockade on Gaza and the fate of the inter-reconciliation," said Taha.
Jailed Fatah leader says prisoners swap in final phase
RAMALLAH, Dec. 9 (Xinhua) -- A Fatah leader in prison said the prisoners exchange negotiations between Hamas and Israel reached final and critical point, the Jerusalem-based al-Quds newspaper reported Wednesday.
Marwan al-Barghouti, a Fatah leader serving life sentence, said in an interview with the newspaper in his jail that he hopes "the swap to take place soon as it has entered its final, most difficult phase." Full story
Abbas: No swap deal reached so far on Israeli Shalit
CAIRO, Dec. 9 (Xinhua) -- No swap deal has been reached so far between the Islamist group Hamas and Israel on freeing kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Wednesday in Sharm el-Sheikh of Egypt, reported Egypt's MENA news agency.
After talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in the Red Sea resort, Abbas, when asked about his expectation of the deal, said that according to available information, talks are currently held among the parties concerned on the details of the deal, including the number of those to be set free. Full story
Special Report: Palestine-Israel Conflicts