Shalit talks on hold


(JTA) — Negotiations to free Gilad Shalit are "moribund" because of Israel’s change in government, a Hamas representative said.

"Talks are moribund until the new Israeli government renews them," Usama al-Mazini told Israel Army radio on Friday.

Al-Mazini handles prisoner exchange talks for the terrorist group Hamas, which captured Shalit in a cross-border raid nearly three years ago.

Ehud Olmert tried in his last days as prime minister to free the Israeli soldier, agreeing finally to Hamas’ demands that the exchange include Palestinians involved in the killing of Israelis. The talks faltered over Israel’s insistence that the released Palestinians leave the Palestinian areas.

Al-Mazini said that renewing the indirect talks, which have taken place under Egyptian auspices, was just as likely with the new harder-line Benjamin Netanyahu government.

"The Zionist enemy has no other choice," Army radio quoted him as saying.

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