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Olmert overrules Shin Bet: Agrees to concessions in Shalit deal

Prime minister orders relaxing stringent conditions stifling negotiations for release of Gilad Shalit despite Shin Bet concerns over release of convicted terrorists on Hamas' list

"The road ahead is still very long. Hamas has high demands that we have no intention of conceding to," a senior official familiar with the Israeli efforts to secure the release kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit said on Sunday following a high-profile meeting held on the subject at Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's office.

 

"What can be said is that the internal Israeli position regarding the negotiations was settled at the prime minister's office today," said the official.

 

The meeting was called to resolve the differences between Ofer Dekel, who was appointed by Olmert to oversee the release efforts, and Shin Bet Chief Yuval Diskin.

 

Olmert is currently promoting a new set of terms that Israel would be willing to meet in the negotiations, the new position goes against the position maintained by Diskin. The change may speed up Shalit's release, but officials in the know have estimated that any final deal is still far off.

 

Several cabinet ministers attended the meeting at Olmert's office on Sunday. Led by Defense Minister Ehud Barak, the assembled group attempted to find a breakthrough in the stalled internal negotiations.

 

Dekel believes Israel must make concessions regarding the release of prisoners wanted by the Palestinians, in accordance with the list of names given to Israel through Egyptian mediators. But Diskin has voiced vehement objection to the move, citing concerns that once freed, convicted terrorists would return to launching attacks against Israeli citizens.

 

Dekel's plan would see Israel comprising a new list of prisoners it is willing to release in exchange for Shalit, who is being held captive by Hamas in Gaza.

 

Olmert eventually ruled in favor of Dekel's agenda and authorized the plan to add more names to the Israeli list and ease the criteria for release – as was recommended by a committee led by Vice Premier Haim Ramon, that examined the case.

 

But officials involved in the talks said that despite the prime minister's decision, Shalit won't be released in the coming days.

 

For now Dekel will communicate the new terms to the Egyptian mediators, which he is in close contact with.

 


פרסום ראשון: 02.03.08, 23:07
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