Mahmoud Abbas and Arab paper retract earlier reports of prisoner swap deal for Gideon Shalit

debkafile reported Tuesday that the case of the kidnapped Israeli soldier is being exploited in the power struggle between Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and PM Ismail Haniya.
Our sources refuted the latest reports in two Arab publications on Tuesday, Sept 5, maintaining that the Israeli soldier Gilead Shalit had been transferred to Egypt as part of a done deal for his release in return for Palestinians in Israeli jails.
debkafile linked these reports, one quoting Mahmoud Abbas, others citing circles close to Palestinian Haniya, to the intense power struggle Abbas’ Palestinian Authority and Haniya’s Hamas. The soldier’s release is very far from their agenda.
During the Lebanon War, Hamas’ supreme leader, the Damascus-based Khaled Meshaal ordered Hamas’ military wing in Gaza to loose a full-scale barrage on the southern Israeli towns of Sderot and Ashkelon to mirror the Hizballah rocket offensive against northern Israel’s Kiryat Shemona and Nahariya.
Haniya dissuaded the armed Hamas wing from obeying the order by pointing to the damage the Israel air force had wrought on Hizballah strongholds in southern Beirut and would no doubt inflict on Gaza.
Meshaal flew into a rage and decided Haniya must go. He stopped the suitcases of cash reaching the Hamas government in Gaza, cutting off prime minister Haniya’s operating capital.
Enter Muhammed Dahlan, Abbas’s ubiquitous sidekick, with a brainwave: Take advantage of Haniya’s plight and force him to accept an emergency unity government that would restore the premiership to Fatah. Abbas aka Abu Mazen quite liked the idea of holding both the presidency and the premiership. The announcement was scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 9. In the meantime, however, Abbas as usual cannot make up his mind.
To get both Abbas and Meshaal off his back, Haniya pumped out press leaks suggesting a deal was imminent for the release into Egyptian hands of the Israeli soldier kidnapped by a Hamas-led group on June 25. By using Shalit in this way, he hoped to make it worth their while for Israel, Egypt and Abu Mazen to prop him up as Palestinian prime minister.
However, Tuesday, Sept. 5, Abbas decided to grab the Shalit initiative from Haniya. While visiting Bahrain, he chimed in with an announcement indicating he had pulled off the breakthrough over the Israeli soldier’s release and deserved to be rewarded with support from Israel, Egypt etc. He thus left the door open to fire Haniya.
These cynical, self-serving machinations centering on Gideon Shalit are still going on. None of them bring the kidnapped soldier an inch closer to freedom.

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