Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with the parents of captive soldier Gilad Shalit on Sunday and informed them of the new special negotiator he has appointed to replace Hagai Hadas in efforts to release their son.
Netanyahu has appointed David Meidan, a senior section chief at the Mossad, to replace Hadas. President Shimon Peres is scheduled to visit the Shalit family tent ahead of the Passover holiday – the fifth Gilad has spent in captivity.
The Prime Minister's Office said that Meidan has long served as a section chief at the Mossad and has been involved in a variety of operations including efforts pertaining to Shalit. "The prime minister has reviewed a number of candidates for this role and has chosen Meidan due to his expertise in the field, his experience and familiarity with all the relevant parties."
It was further stated that Meidan will remain in the Mossad and will be briefed by Hadas. He will then work full time in the Shalit negotiator capacity. "The prime minister has instructed Meidan to pursue all available paths in order to return Gilad to his parents."
The prime minister's wife, Sara Netanyahu also attended the meeting. "It was important to me to prevent a vacuum on this issue," the prime minister said. "I promise you that in the coming days and weeks we shall continue pursuing all available means to bring about Gilad's release."
Benjamin and Sara Netanyahu with Noam and Aviva Shalit (Photo: Avi Ohayon, GPO)
Noam Shalit left the meeting with the premier disappointed. "We were invited to the prime minister's residence for an update. We were told we would be given data. Sadly, the only update we got was regarding the identity of the new negotiator to replace Hagai Hadas," he told reporters.
"We didn’t learn anything new about efforts to release Gilad. Sadly we were told efforts were made, but no results. The prime minister is basically admitting that ultimately nothing is happening or progressing."
Shalit added: "We have expressed our protest and frustration to the prime minister for the fact that two governments have failed to bring Gilad home." Referring to Meidan's appointment he said: "These are merely technical matters."
Hagai Hadas resigned Wednesday after a year and 10 months as the government appointed special representative for the return of Gilad Shalit.
There has been no progress in the efforts to secure the release of Shalit, who has been in Hamas captivity for 1,753 days now. Last week, a senior Hamas official said that German mediation efforts to secure a prisoner swap have failed.
Noam Shalit told Ynet in response to Hadas's resignation: "The government's failure does not need further proof like Hadas's departure. Two governments that fail to bring Gilad home for half a decade are proof enough."
Omri Efraim contributed to this report
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