debkafile Exclusive: Hamas politburo member Muhammed Nazal: “We shall keep the Israeli soldier alive but not release him without gain”
This assurance was delivered to the Qatari foreign minister Sheikh Jassem Ben Hama al Thaini, when he traveled to Damascus Saturday, July 1, at the request of US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice. She asked him to tell Syrian president Bashar Asad that he must expel Hamas hardline leader Khaled Meshaal and his command from Damascus.
Asad’s reply: “I don’t meddle in Palestine just as I don’t interfere in Iraq.”
He added he is willing to throw Meshaal out, on one condition: that the Americans and Israelis let him return home.” debkafile adds: Since Meshaal’s family originates in the West Bank village of Silwad, that reply cut short the pressure on Asad to take a hand in the release of Corp. Gideon Shalit, the Israeli soldier kidnapped by Hamas.
The option of stepping up military pressure on Hamas at the Gaza end was again tossed back in the laps of Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert and defense minister Amir Peretz.