Barak Ravid
August 28, 2009 - 12:00am

Hamas politburo chief Khaled Meshal is expected to fly to Cairo next week to approve a deal that includes the release of captured Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit, the London-based Arabic language newspaper al-Hayat reported on Friday.

Meanwhile, a German intelligence official has arrived in Cairo to help mediate on the Shalit deal, senior German officials told Haaretz on Thursday.

As part of the efforts, the German official will "interview" senior Israeli, Egyptian and Hamas officials in order to find out the reasons for the standstill in negotiations and to offer a path to bring about a breakthrough.

The German sources told Haaretz that Hamas sees German intelligence as an honest broker. They added that the German official would not replace Egypt's mediator in the negotiations, but would rather act as an external adviser.

The sources said that the German mediator had already held talks with the Hamas leadership in Damascus and had even had meetings with senior Hamas officials in the Gaza Strip. He had also met with Israel's chief Shalit negotiator, Haggai Hadas, and with other Israeli officials, the sources said.

Last Monday, a Hamas delegation led by Ahmed Jabari, the head of the group's military wing, arrived in Cairo for talks on a prisoner swap.

Jabari, who was accompanied by top Hamas figure Mahmoud Zahar and two other advisers, is considered the leading Hamas figure on prisoner exchange talks.

Shalit, who was captured in June 2006 in a cross-border raid from the Gaza Strip, marked his fourth birthday in captivity on Friday.


American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017