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Israel heads back to negotiating table with Hamas in Cairo next week

July 18, 2008 9:57 A.M. (Updated: July 18, 2008 9:57 A.M.)
Bethlehem - Ma'an - Israeli official in charge of prisoner negotiations Ofer Dekel is scheduled to go to Cairo to continue negotiations with Palestinian representatives over the release of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

An official Israeli source said in Jerusalem on Friday that Dekel will head to Cairo next week to meet with Egyptian intelligence director General Omar Suleiman. Dekel's visit to Cairo, said the official, coincides with the scheduled visit of some Hamas representatives.

The source added that Cairo must exert pressure on Hamas if we are to see the implementation of any exchange deal between Israel and Hamas.

Many expect that Hamas will have increased their demands after the success of the Israel-Hizbullah exchange deal that took place Wednesday.

According to a number of sources, the sticking point on Israel-Hamas negotiations is the identities of the detainees that Hamas would like released. There is apparently agreement on the number of people to be released, but Israel are hesitant to include certain individuals in the release.

French officials offer to mediate prisoner release deal

The international community has offered assistance in brokering the Israel-Hamas deal. The latest tender came from French officials published in Al-Ayam, the daily Palestinian newspaper.

According to Israeli sources, Israeli officials are opposed to the idea, though Hamas representatives have not expressed any negative opinions on the subject.

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