Image of Israeli Defence Minster Avigdor Lieberman on 21 April 2016
Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman has denied media reports about a “breakthrough” in the prisoner swap it is negotiating with Hamas, Ynet News reported yesterday. According to the deal Hamas would provide information over missing Israelis in return for the release of Palestinian prisoners.
“There is no contact with Hamas,” he said.
Over the past several days Israeli media widely republished news about a close prisoner swap reported by the Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar.
However, Liebermann said: “There is an ongoing effort to achieve the release of our soldiers and civilians held in captivity by Hamas. There is no breakthrough.”
Lieberman added: “We do not negotiate with terrorist organisations, there are various parties that are negotiating with them such as Egypt and others, but we have no intention of ever holding direct negotiations with the murderers in Hamas.”
The Israeli prime minister’s office refused to comment on these reports but sources inside the office, Ynet News reported, did not deny that there are ongoing efforts being exerted but that the progress being made was insignificant.
Comments made by Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennet suggest that ongoing talks are in fact taking place:
“The Israeli interest is to put as much pressure on Hamas prisoners in our jails in a way that leverages the [Hamas] leadership’s desire to return those who need to be returned according to international treaties. Pressure, rather than be pressed,” Bennet said according to Ynet News.
(Source / 10.07.2017)