"I told the Shalit family on Thursday that we have a moral obligation to bring soldiers home," he said. "It is neither simple nor easy, but we won't rest until we bring Gilad home."
Turning his attention to last week's prisoner exchange deal with Hizbullah, in which Israel released five Lebanese prisoners for the bodies of IDF reservists Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, Olmert said "on behalf of the Israeli government, I wish to console the families of the brave soldiers, who were laid to rest here at home.
"Shortly after the (Second Lebanon War) ended we estimated that (the captives were killed), but it was our duty to do everything in order to bring them home – because we did not have any conclusive evidence indicating that they were in fact dead. Therefore, we had to act as though they were still alive.
"Our values differ from those of our enemies. What some may consider a weakness is the foundation of our solidarity and the basis of Israel's moral strength," the PM continued to say. "Even when the captive soldiers are returned and buried, we should be proud, because we have a moral obligation to bring the soldiers home, not only to send them off to battle."
Minister of Science, Culture, and Sport Raleb Majadele (Labor) said the prisoner swap with Hizbullah will help advance the negotiations for Shalit's release.
Shalit was captured during a cross border raid on an IDF base near Gaza on June 25, 2006.