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Israeli PM Says Talks with Hamas for Captured Soldier Back On

  • Robert Berger

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

After a long hiatus, two Middle East arch enemies have resumed indirect talks on exchanging prisoners.

Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas say they have resumed negotiations on a prisoner swap through a German mediator.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he hopes to win the release of captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, held for more than four years in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

Mr. Netanyahu told Army Radio that Israel is working non-stop and making every effort to bring Shalit home.

Talks broke down nearly a year ago when Hamas rejected Israel's offer of 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the captive soldier. The reason is that Mr. Netanyahu refused to release top Hamas militants involved in the deadliest terrorist attacks.

The government's position has angered the Shalit family because Israel has carried out lopsided prisoner swaps in the past. Zvi Shalit, the soldier's grandfather, was interviewed on Israel Radio.

He said Mr. Netanyahu is killing Gilad, and he demanded the prime minister change his policies and bring the soldier home immediately.

The Israeli public is divided over the issue. Opponents say that in the past, released Palestinian prisoners returned to terrorist activities and many Israelis paid with their lives.

Cabinet Minister Gilad Erdan of Mr. Netanyahu's right-wing Likud party says terrorists cannot be freed at any price.

He said Israel has made a very generous offer to Hamas, but there have to be some red lines.

Hamas blames Israel for the impasse. It says the captive soldier could be released tomorrow, if Israel frees all the Palestinian prisoners on the list.

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