PARIS (AFP) – The exiled leader of the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas said in an interview Monday that negotiations with Israel on freeing captured soldier Gilad Shalit were deadlocked.
Khaled Meshaal, who is based in Syria, accused Israel in an interview to Le Figaro newspaper of being an unreliable partner in the talks to release Shalit, who was captured in June 2006 and has since been held in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.
Asked about the state of negotiations, Meshaal said: “They are at a standstill because of the lack of reliability of Israeli negotiators, who have repeatedly come back on negotiated positions.”
Israel and Hamas have for several months held Egyptian-mediated talks on the release of Shalit, a conscript who also has French citizenship who was captured during a cross-border raid.
The Islamist group wants the release of 1,000 Palestinians held in Israeli jails in return for his release, but it said last week it had suspended talks on the proposed swap in protest at closures of its borders.
Hamas seized control of the territory in June last year after the Islamists routed forces loyal to Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas. Israel has blockaded the impoverished territory since the Hamas takeover.