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Mashaal: No real progress in Shalit deal

Mashaal: No real progress in Shalit deal

Agencies\Al Qassam website - Hamas politburo chief tells Qatari newspaper talks for release of captive soldier still ongoing, but blames Benjamin Netanyahu for failure to reach agreement.

Hamas politburo chief Khalid Mashaal said there is no real progress in talks for the release of the Zionist soldier Gilad Shalit, despite recent reports to the contrary.

In an interview to Qatari newspaper al-Watan, Mashaal said mediation efforts in the matter were ongoing, but that no real progress has been made.

He said this was due to "the manner in which the Zionist enemy's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is handling the matter.'

Mashaal added that Netanyahu believes he can force Hamas to lower its demands with regards to the release of Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Shalit.

In recent days there have been reports of progress towards signing a prisoner exchange deal that will secure Shalit's release.

Noam Shalit, the soldier's father, said at a rally at the Western Wall last night for his son's 23rd birthday that he and his family were not optimistic.