The insane war in Gaza destroyed everything, so do not know where Shalit is alive or dead," Osama al-Muzaini, a Hamas official authorized to speak about the case, told teld the press.
Muzaini said that in any case, Israel should continue with negotiations to exchange Shalit for Palestinian prisoners and other Arabs.
"The Zionist enemy should follow the negotiations without any sign that confirms or denies if he is alive or dead," he concluded.
Israel may be negotiating for a dead body, or nothing at all.
A Haare'tz article, ignoring this report, commented on the failure of the recent negotiations:
In recent weeks, the media proposed that an imminent agreement between Fatah and Hamas, along an Egyptian outline, will lead to the release of Gilad Shalit. But last week another round of talks in Cairo ended in failure, and the hope ought to be that the negotiations being conducted by Israeli coordinator Haggai Hadas for Shalit's release have been separated from Egypt's ambitions to obtain an inter-Palestinian accord.The sixth round of talks in Cairo began with much fanfare last Sunday, with a higher level of expectations than in the past - for several reasons. There was the sense of historic moment and expectation of change created by U.S. President Barack Obama's speech in Cairo; the Egyptian ultimatum to the parties, naming July 7 as the signing date for a reconciliation agreement; the new, positive tone of statements from Hamas officials regarding the United States; and also America's decision to return its ambassador to Damascus, suggesting Syria, too, would pressure the Hamas leadership to agree to the Egyptian compromise.There was another reason for the high hopes: Egypt's marketing efforts, joined by European and American interlocutors, implied that a resolution to the Fatah-Hamas conflict would quickly bring about a "mega-truce" (tahadiyeh): the lifting of the blockade of Gaza, Shalit's release, early elections in the territories - perhaps to be followed by a new era in which Hamas would no longer in power. The United Nations, the European Union, former U.S. president Jimmy Carter and officials in the current American administration responded enthusiastically.
The bigger the hopesAs usual, the grand schemers did not give sufficient consideration to the detailed positions of Hamas and Fatah, and especially to what is going on within the Islamic organization. Fatah and Hamas officials are much more skeptical than the West about a dialogue's chances of success. Last Wednesday, a Fatah official explained to Haaretz that he was not disappointed. "Disappointment is for those who harbor great hopes for such an event. I didn't have any expectations," he said.Hamas clearly saw the difficulties inherent in the Egyptian proposal. Hamas was not being asked to consent to the establishment of a unity government that would recognize Israel, or to cede its control in Gaza. However, the special committee that the Egyptians sought to manage the funds designated for the rehabilitation of Gaza would sooner or later have stolen authority away from the Hamas government. And the plan to establish a joint Hamas-Fatah security force was intended to weaken the organization's military grip on Gaza. The heads of Hamas' military wing were not prepared to consider the entry of an Arab force into Gaza. General elections also might not have served Hamas well, given its weak showing in recent polls (18.8 percent support versus 38.5 percent for Fatah).But Hamas did not object to any of these points outright. In fact, it agreed to almost all of them. Its insistence on the release of all its prisoners held by the Palestinian Authority prior to the signing of any accord begs the suspicion it viewed this as an excellent pretext to torpedo the emerging agreement and thus avoid discussion of all the other sections it found troubling.The radicals in Hamas ultimately proved decisive in the refusal to sign an agreement with Fatah, at least for now. A good number of Hamas officials, in Gaza and Damascus, are interested in reconciliation now. However, it appears the military wing in Gaza, headed by Ahmed al-Ja'abari, is not prepared at present to consider any concession lessening its control in Gaza, with backing from Hamas officials abroad, such as Imad al-Ilmi, who is known for his close ties with the regime in Iran.
A breakthrough may yet occur in the next round of talks, set for July 25. But given the disappointment of both sides, the "war of arrests" between the organizations is likely to resume, with Hamas arresting Fatah people in Gaza and Fatah returning the favor in the West Bank. If that happens, a further round of talks may not get off the ground.
Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors. Originally posted at http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2009/07/is-gilad-shalit-still-alive.html. Please do link to these articles, quote from them and forward them by email to friends with this notice. Other uses require written permission of the author.