Iran Might Sabotage Shalit Deal, Mediator Warns

By Haaretz

Published October 14, 2011.

Iran could still try and sabotage a prisoner exchange deal between Israel and Hamas that would set Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit free, top German intelligence officials said on Friday, adding that the situation will continue to remain “fragile” until Shalit’s arrival in Israel.

The comments were made by the German mediator to the Shalit talks Gerhard Conrad and the head of German intelligence Ernst Uhrlau, who had aided Israel in talks geared at retrieving former IDF officer Elhanan Tannenbaum from Hezbollah captivity in 2004.

Speaking to reporters in the Berlin headquarters of German intelligence (Bundesnachrichtendienst, or BND), the officials expressed their satisfaction with the completed deal, and from their contribution to its completion, adding, however that the situation was still “fragile” until the terms of the deal take place on the ground.

The German officials especially stressed their fear of an Iranian move to sabotage the deal’s execution, claiming that Iran, who wields significant influence on Hamas, was not happy about the Israel-Hamas agreement.

In addition, Conrad and Uhrlau emphasized recent tensions with Tehran over the exposure of an alleged Iranian plot to attack the Israeli embassy in Washington, as well as assassinate the Saudi envoy to the United States.

The intelligence officials told reporters they had been optimistic as to the chances of striking a deal by the end of last year, saying, however, that talks fell through, a fact which they attributed to turmoil in the Arab world, and especially in Egypt.

It should be noted that Israeli sources estimated that one of the reasons a deal was not achieved six months ago was Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s unwillingness to make the required concessions, to which he agreed in the deal signed recently. That refusal also brought on the retirement of Shalit talks envoy Haggai Hadas, who was replaced by David Meidan.

Even though Conrad and Uhrlau did not indicate so directly, the impression they gave was that the Arab Spring and the Egyptian crisis severely damaged German intelligence ties with the old Egyptian regime, especially with the head of Egyptian intelligence, the General Omar Suleiman.

For more, go to Haaretz.com



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