One of the leaders of the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) and the spokesperson for its parliamentary bloc, Dr. Salah al-Bardawil, has confirmed that the movement does not oppose the mediation of former US President Bill Clinton in the completion of a prisoner deal with Israel. However, al-Bardawil also confirmed that the movement would not back down from any of its demands for such a deal to be agreed.
In a press statement released on Sunday 11th July, al-Bardawil accused the Israeli authorities of trying to annul the progress made in previous mediation efforts on the prisoner deal and reiterated his movement's readiness to deal with any intermediary in order to resume negotiations from where they were broken off. The statement came after reports from Israeli sources that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has asked ex-President Clinton to participate in efforts for the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit who was captured in Gaza four years ago.
"On the issue of prisoners," said Dr. Al-Bardawil, "in principle, Hamas has no objection to the mediation of any party, whether that be Mr. Clinton or anyone else. However, what is important is that mediation takes place on the basis of integrity; we are not talking about conditions here, but about the resumption of negotiations at the point at which they broke off before Netanyahu caused their failure."
Dr. Al-Bardawil denied any possibility of Hamas relinquishing its position on the issue: "Our cause is just, and there are thousands of our people languishing as prisoners in Israeli jails, so our demands are reasonable." However, he said, in an effort to bide for time which backfired, Israel disrupted the deal with talk about prisoner names and the places where they were to be released. According to Dr. Al-Bardawil, the position of Hamas is the same as that of the prisoners themselves (who refuse to bargain), the families of the prisoners and the principles of the Islamic movement, all of which prevent the Palestinian negotiator from compromising in order to complete an exchange deal. "As such, any discussions about a retreat from this position or surrender to Netanyahu's conditions are completely ignominious."
Source: Palestinian Information Centre