Israeli News: A Daily Analysis

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A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman

March 17, 2009--Hamas Refuses to Budge, Negotiations Over For the Moment over Shalit. Netanyahu Having Difficulties With Coalition

It is now official: the talks for the release of Gilad Shalit have ended in failure. The failure seems to be due to two factors. First, Hamas was never willing to compromise at all on the list. In the end there are 10 of the worst terrorists that Israel is unwilling to let go, and Hamas is unwilling to be flexible. Second, Hamas refused to agree to the number of terrorist that Israel has requested be sent into exile. In addition, Hamas changed its position in the last few days. Part of the agreement was for Israel to release 450 terrorist of Hamas’ choosing and an additional 500 that Israel would choose. Now Hamas is demanding a say in the second list. Finally, Hamas has also demanded the release of some Israeli Arabs in jail, something Israel categorically refuses to do.

Prime Minister Olmert spoke to the country and explained the situation. He stated that as long as he was Prime Minister (between a few days to couple of weeks) Israel would not give into any additional demands. He said that Israel has been willing to more than any other western nation to retrieve its prisoner, but there was a line that cannot be crossed.

Israel publicized the list of prisoners it is willing to release and those that it is not willing to release. By releasing the list of those that it is not willing to release, Israel effectively ends the negotiations, since Hamas is not going to be willing to climb down from its demands for those specific prisoners.

Netanyahu is having difficulty closing a deal with some of the parties. Shas, whose deal was thought done, last night demanded that a second Education Minister be established just for the Haredi schools. Members of Likud are strongly opposed. There is now talk that Netanyahu will have to request an extension from the President.