Shlomo Goldwasser. Minister committed
Photo: Ofer Amram
Barak. Decisions to be made soon
Photo: Doron Golan

Zvi Regev: Swap deal depends on ministers

Families of kidnapped soldiers meet for briefing with Defense Minister Barak. 'We are on the verge of a deal with Hizbullah for our sons' return, and are now waiting for its completion and approval by the Israeli government,' says Eldad Regev's father. Gilad Shalit's parents leave meeting 'unsatisfied'

Briefing ahead of possible prisoner swap deal. Defense Minister Ehud Barak met Friday morning with the families of kidnapped IDF soldiers Ehud Goldwasser, Eldad Regev and Gilad Shalit in order to brief them on the recent developments in the negotiations with Hizbullah and Hamas.


Eldad Regev's father Zvi said following the meeting that the implementation of a prisoner exchange deal with Hizbullah depends on the decision of the government ministers.


According to Regev, "We are on the verge of a deal with Hizbullah for the sons' return, and are now waiting for it to be completed and approved by the Israeli government."


The Regev and Goldwasser families did not receive an exact date for the deal, but Barak promised to resolve the captives' problem as soon as possible and noted that he was personally committed to bring the troops home.

Zvi Regev and Karnit Goldwasser leave meeting (Photo: Ofer Amram)


Ehud Goldwasser's father Shlomo told Ynet, "We asked to meet with the defense minister in order to tell him how we feel. He heard us and stressed his commitment as a defense minister to return the soldiers. We plan to travel to Jerusalem for additional meetings with ministers."


Karnit, Ehud Goldwasser's wife, said that "we asked the defense minister to end the affair and received partial answers." The families plan to meet ministers and Knesset members and pressure them to support the swap deal. "Additional meetings are expected soon with anyone meant to decide on Udi and Eldad's fate," she added.


Karnit's father, Omri Avni, noted that "we did not receive any new information, but were allowed to clearly tell the prime minister how we feel."


Earlier, Barak met with Gilad Shalit's parents Aviva and Noam. At the end of the meeting, which lasted about an hour, Noam Shalit told Ynet that he was "unsatisfied".


He said that Barak spoke to him about the truce in the Gaza Strip, adding that no additional meetings with the defense minister were expected in the near future.


Two days ago, Noam Shalit launched an attack on the government, claiming that it had deceived him by agreeing to a truce deal which did not include his son's release. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is expected to leave for Cairo on Tuesday in order to discuss the Shalit issue with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

Aviva and Noam Shalit (Photo: Ofer Amram)


According to a poll conducted by the Dahaf Institute and published by Yedioth Ahronoth on Friday, 61% of the Israeli public support the release of Samir Kuntar, who murdered the Haran family members in Nahariya in 1979, even if kidnapped Israeli soldiers Regev and Godlwasser are no longer alive.


Barak has said in closed forums that if Regev and Godlwasser are dead, releasing Kuntar in exchange for their bodies would create a dangerous precedent. However, it is unclear whether he will oppose the prisoner swap deal when it is brought to the government's approval.


Talking to reporters in Paris on Thursday, the defense minister said that the talks for the release of Goldwasser and Regev were maturing and that a decision on the issue would be made "in the coming days and weeks, and not within months."


'Last details being finalized'  

Ofer Dekel, the man tasked by the prime minister to handle the captive soldiers' release, held meetings with the Regev and Goldwasser families at the prime minister's Tel Aviv office two days ago.


Omri Avni, Karnit Godlwasser's father, who took part in the meeting, said that the family members were briefed on the talks, but refused to elaborate. He did not say whether the families were updated on their sons' condition.


Following Dekel's trip to Europe, where he is believe to have met with German mediator Gerhard Konrad, Israeli sources have estimated that the deal is about to be implemented.


Jerusalem officials refused to say whether the captives' families had received details on their sons' condition, in order not to verify or refute fears that the two are dead. A senior diplomatic source told Ynet that "the hostage exchange deal with Hizbullah will take some time. It won't happen tonight or tomorrow night."


Increasing reports, however, have indicated that the deal is right around the corner. A senior political source in Lebanon has said that Israel and Hizbullah's representatives are at the last stages of finalizing the deal.


According to the source, the parties are in need of 10 more days in order to implement the deal. "The two sides are finalizing the last details," he said.


The source added that Hizbullah would deliver the two kidnapped soldiers to Israel, but that their condition was unclear. In return, Israel will release Samir Kuntar and four other Lebanese security prisoners, in addition to the bodies of 10 Hizbullah members killed during the Second Lebanon War.


"They must reach an agreement on a number of small details, after which they will have to discuss the logistic preparations of the delivery itself," he said.


  • Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev were kidnapped into Lebanon 709 days ago


  • Gilad Shalit was kidnapped into the Gaza Strip 726 days ago


Hagai Einav contributed to this report


פרסום ראשון: 06.20.08, 12:01
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