Israel not about to talk to Hamas, says Israel’s U.S. Ambassador

Washington, Oct. 20 - The prisoner swap that freed Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit from five years of captivity in Gaza will not lead to further talks with the terrorist group Hamas, Israel’s Ambassador to the United States told Foreign Policy magazine Tuesday.

“Hamas remains a terrorist organization. It doesn't meet any of the Quartet's criteria for negotiating. Its charter still calls for the destruction of the State of Israel and the annihilation of the Jewish people worldwide,” Oren said in the interview.

Shalit was captured in a cross-border raid in 2006 by Gaza-based terrorists. Hamas, which has fired thousands of rockets into Israel since it gained control of the coastal enclave in 2006, kept the soldier in nearly complete isolation in a basement, and refused Red Cross requests to visit Shalit in violation of international law.

After a deal between Hamas and Israel was struck that freed 1,027 Palestinian prisoners in Israel, the gaunt but generally healthy Shalit was released Tuesday and reunited with his family.

Oren also said that despite street celebrations in Gaza that greeted some of those released, their return would not improve the quality of life in enclave, where the terrorist group rules with an iron fist.

"They may celebrate for a few hours, but the people in Gaza are going to wake up tomorrow in the same position that were in today, and that's not a very favorable position at all," Oren said. "There's no obscuring that fact.... It's not a victory for them."

The swap for Shalit has generated controversy within Israeli society for the high price of the soldier’s freedom, and Israel now has to contend with the fact that convicted murderers responsible for the death of hundreds of Israelis are free.

Among those released were Nasser Yateima, who planned the 2002 Hotel bombing which killed 30 Israelis; Walid Abdel-Hadi, who was serving 36 life terms for his role in several attacks including a March 2002 suicide bombing in a Jerusalem cafe that killed 11 people, and Amna Muna, a Palestinian woman who in 2001 lured a teenage Israeli boy to a West Bank city where he was killed by terrorists waiting for him.

But Oren said that the swap cut to the core of the Israeli state’s obligation to its citizens.

The deal “showed a gap between Israeli society and Palestinian society. We celebrated life. They celebrated death," Oren said. "They celebrated the release of people who have killed dozens of men, women, and children. And it's a huge ethical difference."


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