Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has asked a number of Arab and international parties to mediate a prisoner exchange deal with Hamas, senior movement member Mousa Abu Marzouk has said.
Amongst the countries that Netanyahu has spoken to about the matter, Abu Marzouk said Russia, Egypt, Turkey and Qatar have been asked to intervene.
Speaking in an interview with the Anadolu Agency, the senior official said Hamas would not enter into such a deal until Israel releases the detainees of the previous exchange deals, who have been re-arrested.
“Everybody knows that this issue is on the agenda of Netanyahu. Wherever he goes he raises this file to put pressure on Hamas. He has raised it with Qatar, Turkey, Egypt, Russia and other countries.”
“Netanyahu asked the Russian President Vladimir Putin to intervene with Hamas, in order to release the imprisoned soldiers.”
In April 2016, Al-Qassam Brigades revealed that it was holding four Israeli soldiers as prisoners of war. The Brigades demanded the release of prisoners from previous prisoner exchange deals, who were re-arrested by Israel, before any discussions about the release of soldiers that they captured could begin.
“We made it clear to the Russians that there is no point in discussing any new exchange deals, before Israel commits to the previous agreement [the Shalit deal],” Abu Marzouk said.
In 2011, Egypt mediated a prisoner swap deal which saw the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who had been in Hamas custody since 2006, in exchange for more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners held by the Israelis.
During the 2014 Israeli war on Gaza, Hamas reportedly captured two Israeli soldiers whose fate is currently unknown. The movement has refused to reveal any information about them without the release of the 54 Palestinians who were re-imprisoned by Israel despite being released in the Shalit exchange deal.