Channels

PM Olmert and FM Livni
Photo: Moshe Milner, GPO
Shin Bet and IDF chiefs at meeting
Photo: Moshe Milner, GPO
Israel may worsen Hamas prisoners' conditions
Cabinet discusses failure of talks aimed at securing Gilad Shalit's release for about three hours. Special ministerial committee appointed to examine ways to pressure Hamas. Justice minister compares Hamas to Hitler, says 'some lines will not be crossed'
The cabinet on Tuesday convened for about three hours to discuss the failure of the talks aimed at security kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit's release. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert briefed his ministers on the recent steps taken and efforts made to release the captive, who has been held by Hamas for 996 days.

 

The Shalit family was invited to meet with the prime minister at the end of the meeting.

 

The government decided to appoint a special ministerial committee headed by Daniel Friedmann, Meir Sheetrit, Haim Ramon, Rafi Eitan and Attorney General Menachem Mazuz, which will examine ways to pressure Hamas.

 

The committee will work to form regulations which would compare the conditions of Hamas prisoners jailed in Israel to the conditions in which kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit is being held. The committee's recommendations will be submitted to the cabinet on Sunday. (

 

Shin Bet Director Yuval Diskin said during the meeting that he was not opposed to publishing parts of the list of prisoners Israel was willing to release. He revealed the names of some of the terrorists demanded by Hamas, including people sentenced to 67, 22 and 18 life terms.

 

Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann said at the end of the meeting, "No government will be able to accept Hamas' demands.

 

"The prime minister was ready to make far-reaching concessions on this matter, way beyond what some of the ministers were willing to accept. Nonetheless, Hamas' demands have reaches such dimensions that we believe no government in Israel will be able to accept."

 

Looking back, Friedmann noted that "in the era before World War II, the arch-murderer Hitler received significant concessions from the democratic countries. He interpreted this wrong and continued with unreasonable demands until the moment when the democratic countries got to the feet, fought for their rights, aggressively and firmly. He discovered this too late.

 

"Hamas is also destined to discover that there are red lines the State of Israel will not be able to cross," he concluded.


Cabinet meeting (Photo: Moshe Milnert, GPO)

 

The government convened for its special meeting at 2 pm. The ministers were briefed by Diskin and Olmert' special emissary Ofer Dekel, who represented Israel in the negotiations in Cairo.

 

Upon entering the meeting, each minister was handed a personal letter from the Shalit family and its acquaintances.

 

Some 200 youths about to be drafted by the army protested outside the meeting, demanding that the kidnapped soldier be released. They carried a sign saying, "Gilad fought for us. Now we will fight for him."

 

'Don't abandon my son'

Earlier, Shalit's father Noam sent a letter to the prime minister, expressing his fear for his son's life and condition.

 

"I am turning to you for the last time on behalf of my family, which is waiting for its son who is locked up Hamas's dungeons; 996 days have passed since Gilad was kidnapped during your tenure as PM.

 

"For nearly three years he has been abandoned in dark burrows, and those who sent him do not know what condition he's in. This letter is a prayer for my son. I am asking you – father to father – don't abandon my son Gilad.

 

"You are fully responsible for the pact between the State and the IDF and for the family that sent its son to the army with the knowledge that he would not be abandoned. We demand that you bring Gilad home before the end of your term, despite the heavy price this entails," the father wrote.

 

On Tuesday morning, Dekel briefed the Shalit family on the failure of the talks for their son's release. The Prime Minister's Office declared Monday night that "Hamas has toughened its stance and reneged on the understandings reaches over the past year, and has raised extreme demands for Gilad's release."

 

The main bone of contention between Israel and Hamas is believed to be the number of prisoners slated to be released as part of the deal and the place they would be deported to.

 

Palestinian sources involved in the negotiations told Ynet that Israel was making a mistake by insisting that the Hamas prisoners would be sent abroad and to the Gaza Strip.

 

"The chance that prisoner deported to Gaza or abroad will harm Israel's security in the future is bigger, because in Gaza they will be able to obtain more information on the rockets and other ammunition which is not in the Strip," one of the sources said.

 


First published: 17.03.09, 17:30
 new comment
See all talkbacks "Israel may worsen Hamas prisoners' conditions "
Warning:
This will delete your current comment