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Report: Norway to intermediate Hamas-Israel negotiations

According to Lebanese newspaper al-Akhbar, Hamas welcomed Norwegians to become involved; a Shalit-like deal is in the works.
Norway is intermediating between Israel and the terrorist group Hamas in an attempt to reach an agreement on the return of Israeli hostages in the Gaza strip, the Lebanese newspaper al-Akhbar reported on Monday.

On Monday evening Maariv online reported that a top Israeli source denied these claims. Palestinian media reported on Saturday that a Hamas delegation led by Saleh al-Arouri, a prominent Hamas leader, departed to Cairo to discuss with the Egyptians how further negotiations with Israel might be conducted.

The Egyptian intermediates who attempted to broker an agreement between Hamas and the PA left Gaza a week ago. Hamas stated that there is no hope of reconciliation with PA President Mahmoud Abbas. The London-based Arab newspaper Al-Hayat reported in July that Germany, after successfully brokering the 2011 Shalit deal, is hoping to reach similar success in achieving the liberation of two Israeli citizens currently held captive by Hamas in the Gaza strip, Hisham al-Sayed and Avera Mangisto, as well as returning the bodies of Israeli soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, kept by Hamas as bartering chips.

As in the Shalit deal, in which IDF soldier Gilad Shalit was released by Hamas in exchange for 1,027 Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli prisons, it is expected that Hamas will request further releases.

Al-Hayat also reported that the Germans have carried out negotiations with Hamas for the past three years, and that these talks have been carried out by both the German diplomatic mission in Israel and a German full-time negotiator who is working from the German capital. Al-Hayat claimed that while the Germans are shaping the deal, the Egyptians would be in charge of ensuring it is carried out as agreed upon on the ground, as they had done in 2011 when Shalit was released.

Within Israel it had been noted that unlike Shalit, who is a Jewish Israeli and was serving in the IDF at the time of his abduction, the prolonged captivity of Bedouin-Israeli al-Sayed and the Ethiopian-Israeli Mangisto has not obtained similar amounts of public attention as Shalit's.

The Goldin family, in contrast, has lead both a national and international campaign calling for the return of their son's remains to Israel.

The Shalit deal led to a massive controversy in Israeli society, with some arguing that it demonstrated the value of human life for Israelis and others, claiming it only encourages Hamas and others to abduct Israelis, dead or alive, knowing that eventually Israel would give in.

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