JERUSALEM (JTA) — Hamas has rejected a German-mediated offer to free Gilad Shalit that had been accept by the Israeli government.
Hamas political bureau deputy chief Mousa Mohammed Abu Marzouk in an interview with the Al Hayat newspaper called the offer "unjust" and said the German mediator “endorsed the unfair and unjust positions of the Zionist government,” according to reports.
Hamas will no longer negotiate with the German mediator, he added.
"There is no chance that the German mediator will return because he is not carrying out his duties and is failing in his mission," Marzouk said. "We all expected that he would present a fair and not extreme position. But instead of trying to reduce the demands of the Israeli government, he accepted its terms."
A German government spokesman confirmed Monday that Israel had accepted the mediator’s proposal for the release of Shalit, an Israeli soldier who was captured in a cross-border raid near Gaza in June 2006, The Associated Press reported.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that Israel had accepted the deal and was awaiting Hamas’ response. Netanyahu did not specify the terms of the proposal.
"This proposal was harsh; it was not simple for the State of Israel," Netanyahu said in a statement released after the weekly Cabinet meeting. "However, we agreed to accept it in the belief that it was balanced between our desire to secure Gilad’s release and to prevent possible harm to the lives and security of the Israeli people. As of now, we have yet to receive Hamas’s official answer to the German mediator’s proposal.
The statement said that "The State of Israel is ready to go far, more than any other country, in order to secure Gilad’s release."