At the Western Wall
Photo: GPO

Olmert: Shalit's release may follow my tenure

Prime minister says he, his government made every effort to secure Hamas-held soldier's return before time in office ends; adds that even if case remains unresolved in near future, foundations laid will facilitate solution

Despite the reports suggesting a prisoner exchange deal between Israel and Hamas is imminent, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was wary Tuesday, saying that "even if Shalit's case cannot be resolved while I am in office, the foundations we built will facilitate in his release."


The prime minister addressed the case of the Hamas-held soldier while touring Jerusalem's archeological sites and the Western Wall. "I have been working on this for the past three years. I've been involved in every nuance and I have never stopped dreaming Gilad would come home. There is a photo of him in my office and I think of him every single day," he said.


"The question of Shalit's release has never left our agenda. Our position, which has remained the same from day one, is that we will negotiate his release first and only then will we be willing to discuss things like the Gaza crossings and rebuilding the Strip.


"These things will be decided on by the cabinet and I'm sure the right decisions will be made," he added.


Vague. Olmert touring Jerusalem (Photo: GPO)


As for the reports suggesting Egypt criticized Israel's approach to a possible ceasefire with Hamas – since the decision on an armistice was bound by progress on the kidnapped soldier's case – Olmert said that he "had not heard any criticism from (Egyptian President Hosni) Mubarak.


"We greatly appreciate Egypt's efforts to stop the arms smuggling to Gaza, in order to facilitate a calm which would prevent the residents of southern Israel from living under constant fire. We know the Egyptians are doing all they can," he said.


As for the reports suggesting Jordanian officials were pursuing legal action against Israeli officials in the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, because of the Israeli offensive in Gaza, the prime minister said that as far as he knew "all they can do is lodge a complaint. We are used to complaints, so we're unfazed by it."


פרסום ראשון: 02.17.09, 15:47
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