Mubarak: Syria blocked Hamas Shalit deal

By Jennifer Lipman, February 10, 2011
Gilad Shalit

Gilad Shalit

A deal with Hamas to free captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was scuppered by Syria and Qatar, according to a cable released by WikiLeaks.

The document quoted a conversation in June 2009 between Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and US general David Petraeus alleging that Hamas was offered more than £31 million to block a prisoner swap.

The classified cable suggested one of the key figures pushing Hamas for a deal was Egyptian vice-president Omar Suleimein, the former intelligence chief considered to be a potential successor to Mr Mubarak if the anti-government protesters succeed in overthrowing him.

The update, sent by General Petraeus to Washington almost exactly three years after Mr Shalit was kidnapped by Hamas gunmen at the Gaza border, did not report whether Hamas had accepted the prisoner swap before the Syrian intervention, nor if any money was ultimately paid.

In another document released by WikiLeaks from June 2008, Mr Mubarak was quoted telling US representatives that publicising the Gilad Shalit case was counterproductive

He said: “The more Shalit is spoken about publicly, the less chance there is that he will get released. Such talk makes the Palestinians feel he is so important that they must keep holding him in return for other future concessions."

During that meeting Mr Mubarak discussed Israeli and Egyptian efforts to control the Gaza border.

Referring to Egypt's attempts to find and destroy tunnels built by Hamas smugglers, he called on Israel to do more to patrol the border and said: "Hamas cannot be trusted.”

Mr Mubarak also expressed the extent of the rift between Egypt and Syria, both powerful members of the Arab League.

He said of President Bashar Al Assad that when they met the following month they would “shake hands, but there [would] be no substantive meeting,” because “he has said so many things against us."

Last updated: 11:11am, February 10 2011