Hamas wants prisoner exchange deal signed before the PA elections

November 15, 2021 by Baruch Yedid - TPS
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A source in the PLO told TPS on Sunday “Hamas is interested in signing an exchange of prisoners and prisoners with Israel before talks begin on the formation of a unity government or elections in the Palestinian Authority.”

Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas at the United Nations on Feb. 11, 2020. Photo: Eskinder Debebe/U.N. Photo.

According to the source, PA chairman Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas) still holds to the option of establishing a national unity government with Hamas. However, Mazen conditions its establishment on a number of conditions. These include Hamas recognizing international agreements and accepting of the “quartet’s” terms regarding recognition of Israel and the abandonment of terrorism.

But Hamas has refused to accept Abu Mazen’s terms, calling them dictates of the Americans and the Israelis.

The source adds that these issues were conveyed by the American envoy, Hadi Amar, to Abu Mazen at their last meeting. But, he adds, Abu Mazen is still working to bring about the formation of a unity government.

The source also told TPS that Hamas is aware of the possibility that the election issue will be raised on the Palestinian agenda again. For this reason, they have allowed the Egyptian intermediaries to continue talks with Israel on the assumption that the release of hundreds of prisoners will lead to a Hamas victory in elections.

The source, a member of a PLO institution, says that Abu Mazen is concerned about Hamas’ strategy. However, because he already postponed elections last May, Abu Mazen now sees the formation of a unity government as the best political option.

The source criticized Abu Mazen’s recent moves because the feels that they could tarnish relations with the United States, adding that “in any case, there is great disappointment in the Palestinian leadership over the positions taken by the United States.”

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