|By Jack Khoury, Haaretz Correspondent|
Hamas threatened on Monday that abducted Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit would never be released until Israel acceded to its demands regarding the list of prisoners it wants freed as part of an exchange deal.
"These prisoners are a surety which we must redeem," Hamas wrote in an official statement. "We will not give up on them, no matter how long it takes. That is what we swore and that is our obligation, and we will not give up until every last prisoner is freed from the prisons of the occupation."
Hamas also said that it still believed in the principle of resistance as a strategy for removing all Palestinian land from under the occupation and for the establishment of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.
The statement added that Hamas was prepared to reconcile with the rival Fatah movement on the basis of Palestinian national interests and the preservation of the principle of resistance to the occupation, and said direct talks were the only way to resolve the factional conflict.
Media reports over the last few weeks have predicted an imminent deal for the release of Shalit, who was abducted three years ago in a cross-border raid from the Gaza Strip.
The negotiations have snagged, however, over dozens prisoners which Hamas has demanded be released.
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