Roee Nahmias
August 31, 2009 - 12:00am,7340,L-3769707,00.html

Hamas politburo chief Khaled Mashaal has promised to include the release of Jordanian prisoners held in Israeli prisons as part of a prisoner exchange deal meant to secure the release of captive soldier Gilad Shalit, Jordanian newspaper al-Arab al-Yawm quoted secretary of the National Committee for Jordanian Prisoners and Missing in Israeli Jails as saying.

The matter of Jordanian prisoners has surfaced in the past in talks for a Shalit deal as part of Hamas' demands of prisoners to be released in the second phase of the agreement.

The issue has been the source of dispute in negotiations, since Israel opposes to the release of any prisoners that are not Palestinian residents of the Palestinian territories – including citizens of foreign nations such as Jordan, Egypt, Israeli-Arabs and permanent residents of east Jerusalem.

Earlier Monday, London-based al-Sharq al-Awsat reported that one of the main points of disagreement blocking the finalization of a deal is Israel's refusal to Hamas' demands that Israeli-Arab prisoners, including east Jerusalem residents be released as well.

The report gave no further details in the matter.

'Not on brink of breakthrough'

Mashaal's deputy, Moussa Abu Marzouk on Monday denied recent reports that both parties were nearing the completion of a deal. "Reports published of the nearing of the deal's finalization are not true," he told London-based al-Hayat newspaper.

"So far, nothing is complete and matters have not ripened to the desired degree. We have not yet reached real and tangible progress in this matter, so we cannot say that we are on the brink of completing the deal. The details published in the newspapers are untrue," he said.

Abu Marzouk added that his organization has yet to sign any document pertaining to the deal and has not agreed to deport prisoners. The paper also reported that, according to Hamas sources, "The Israelis are negotiating with the German mediator in a more positive way. Talks with the Germans are being held with the Egyptians' knowledge, and under their supervision".


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