Talks on a lasting ceasefire in Gaza have run into trouble after the Israeli leadership insisted on the release of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit before any deal is struck. In response Hamas has accused Israel of deliberately trying to wreck the negotiations.
Shalit has been held captive in Gaza since 2006 when he was seized by Palestinian militants in a cross-border raid. His fate has been central to Egyptian-led mediation efforts seeking to transform into a long-term settlement the truce that ended the recent conflict in Gaza. They were reported to have made big progess in recent days with Hamas saying most stumbling blocks had been overcome. Hamas wants Israel to release Palestinian prisoners and lift its blockake of Gaza in exchange for handing over Shalit. But it says this should happen before a ceasefire announcement.