Photo: Noam Rotem
Gilad Shalit
Photo: Noam Rotem
Cabinet meeting (Archive photo)
Photo: Reuters

Israel says Shalit part of any ceasefire agreement

Officials in Jerusalem refute reports saying Israel persuaded to separate demand to release kidnapped solider from negotiations on truce with Palestinian terror groups. Olmert to meet with Arad family, inform them of possibility that Kuntar will be released as part of prisoner exchange deal with Hizbullah

Officials in Jerusalem clarified on Sunday that the release of Gilad Shalit is a prerequisite to any future ceasefire agreement with Palestinian terror groups in Gaza, thus refuting recent reports suggesting that Egyptian intelligence chief General Omar Suleiman persuaded Israel to separate the demand to release the kidnapped solider from the negotiations.


"Without the release of Gilad there will be no deal," one official said.


Shalit's release is expected to correspond with the second stage of the truce – the opening of the Rafah crossing.


Hamas representatives are expected to arrive in Cairo later in the day to meet with Suleiman and discuss Israel's demands.


Meanwhile, it appears that another prisoner exchange deal between Israel and Hizbullah is imminent. Ofer Dekel, the Prime Minister's Office's emissary heading Israel's efforts to have its missing and captive soldiers' returned, left on a mission abroad Sunday. No details pertaining to the nature of the mission were made available.


Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is expected to meet with Ron Arad's family later in the week and brief them on the progress made in the negotiations to retrieve IDF soldiers Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, who were captured by Hizbullah terrorists in a cross-border raid on July 12, 2006.


Olmert is expected to tell the Arad family that Israel is considering releasing Lebanese terrorist Samir Kuntar in the framework of a prisoner swap. Israel has said in the past that Kuntar would be released only in exchange for information on Ron Arad's fate.


Kuntar was jailed in the Hadarim Prison 29 years ago after murdering Danny Haran, his four-year-old daughter Einat and two police officers during a terror attack on the northern city of Nahariya.


Sources in the PM's Office denied reports saying the National Security Cabinet is expected to convene in the next few days to approve Kuntar's release.


About two weeks ago Hizbullah transferred to Israel the remains of a number of IDF soldiers who were killed during the Second Lebanon war in exchange for the release of Lebanese prisoner Nissim Nasser.


פרסום ראשון: 06.15.08, 10:46
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