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After Talks Break Down, Senior Israeli Negotiator Briefs Shalit Family

Israel’s senior negotiator briefed the father of Gilad Shalit amid rumors that the talks to free the kidnapped soldier had broken down.

Ofer Dekel, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s special envoy, met early Tuesday afternoon with Noam Shalit to discuss developments in negotiations.

Hamas reneged on understandings and hardened its position on releasing Gilad Shalit, the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office said late Monday in a statement. The statement did not say that talks to free Gilad Shalit, who was abducted by Hamas-affiliated gunmen in a June 2006 cross-border raid, had failed, but seemed to augur it ahead of a formal announcement set to be delivered by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert Tuesday afternoon at a special Cabinet session.

It announced Monday night’s return of two Israeli negotiators from Cairo, where Egypt has been brokering an exchange of Shalit for Hamas prisoners.

The statement quoted the negotiators, Yuval Diskin, who heads the Shin Bet internal security agency, and Dekel as saying that “it became clear during the discussions that Hamas had hardened its position, reneged on understandings that had been formulated over the past year and raised extreme demands despite the generous proposals that had been raised in this round in order to advance and exhaust the negotiations and bring about the soldier’s release.”

Israel reportedly was ready to release all 400 detainees on the Hamas list, but on the condition they leave the region.

Shalit said he and his supporters would continue to man a protest tent outside the prime minister’s official Jerusalem residence until the end of his term.

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