The head of the Hamas Political Bureau has told Palestinian negotiators to learn from the prisoner swap deal. Khaled Meshaal described the exchange of prisoners as "a white page in Palestine's history.
Speaking at a press conference attended by 40 of the former prisoners as they awaited flights into exile around the region, Mr Meshaal said the agreement with the Israelis was "a new example of negotiations", adding that Israel does not give anything unless it is under pressure. "Negotiations based on strength are what pushed Israel to pay the price," he claimed.
The Bureau chief said that there was a highly political aspect to the swap deal. "You need powerful bargaining chips in these negotiations. If you don't have the right cards at the table you are doomed to fail."
Calling the fact that Gilad Shalit was kept hidden in Gaza for five years "a miracle", Meshaal said that it is something "of which the nation is proud". The resistance-minded Palestinian overcame the security-minded Israeli who is supported by the most advanced surveillance technology, he told journalists.
Meshaal thanked Egypt for its role in mediating between Hamas and Israel. "The Egyptian mediator got a much better deal compared to the one proposed by the German mediator two years ago. Netanyahu is misleading his people by claiming he got the best possible deal."
Acknowledging that the Israeli soldier was precious to his people, Meshaal added that a Palestinian is more precious, not least because, "all of our people paid the price for Shalit's release".