Hamas: Response to Israel count-offer by next week

AP News
Posted: Dec 24, 2009 8:07 AM

A senior Hamas official says the group will respond by next week to Israel's latest counteroffer on swapping Palestinian prisoners for a captured Israeli soldier.

The Damascus-based official, Moussa Abu Marzouk, says the militant group is currently studying Israel's offer and will deliver its answer "next week at the latest."

Abu Marzouk, deputy head of Hamas' politburo, spoke to The Associated Press on Thursday.

A German mediator on Wednesday gave Hamas in Gaza the Israel counteroffer in the negotiations to exchange some 1,000 Palestinian prisoners for a single Israeli soldier, Gilad Schalit, who has been held for 3 1/2 years.

But the militants' Syrian-based leadership is expected to have the final say.