Noam Shalit in Knesset
Photo: Gil Yohanan
Photo: Dudi Vaaknin
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Photo: Dudi Vaaknin

PM says 'personally responsible for Shalit's release'

Noam Shalit, father of captive soldier Gilad Shalit, attends Likud faction meeting on third anniversary of son's abduction, is assured by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that all political bodies have been instructed to make every effort to bring Gilad back as soon as possible

Noam Shalit, father of captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, attended a Likud faction meeting on Monday and asked for the party's help in having his son released from captivity.


Shalit spoke of the previous government's obstacles and said he was aware that a hefty price would have to be paid in exchange for his son's freedom.


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Shalit that he had instructed all political and security bodies to make every effort to have Gilad brought back safe and sound as soon as possible.


The prime minister said this matter was his and his government's personal responsibility and added that he would raise the issue during his meetings with the French president and Italian prime minister this week.


Egypt's Intelligence Chief Omar Suleiman on Monday confirmed reports, first published on Ynet, regarding a new initiative by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak that includes the completion of the Shalit deal.


In a meeting with former Minister Yossi Beilin, Suleiman said he was waiting for Netanyahu's special envoy for Shalit talks, Hagai Hadas.


Suleiman asked Beilin to relay a message to the Israeli government saying that resumption of the Shalit talks now hinges on Israel's willingness to move forward with a new and different outline.


Defense Minister Ehud Barak also met with Shalit on Monday to brief him on his meeting with Suleiman and Egyptian Defense Minister Hussein Tantawi in Cairo on Sunday.


A senior political source said he was optimistic about the renewal of talks for Shalit's release in the near future. "We are committed to having Gilad Shalit released," Barak said ahead of the meeting.


Minister Yossi Peled, a member of the ministerial committee for captives and missing soldiers, told Ynet that it is the State of Israel's duty to bring each and every soldier home.


"I support a prisoner exchange deal," he said, adding that once Shalit is released, Israel must immediately draft clear guidelines on how to respond to cases of abductions and attacks for bargaining purposes.


"Everyone in the country must know what the government's position on the matter is," he said.


Regarding Noam Shalit, Peled said, "I understand the family's horrible pain, it is their right to say whatever is on their mind, and the political echelon must make the right decisions." The minister continued to say, "I demand that the Red Cross be allowed to visit Gilad Shalit."


A very senior political source told Ynet that efforts to have Shalit talks renewed were underway.


According to the source, the team, headed by Hagai Hadas is currently studying the details of the talks that were held during former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's tenure and will follow up with an Israeli proposal to Egypt. "We know that the Egyptians are waiting for us on this matter," the source said.


Meanwhile, a memorial was held on Sunday for Lt Hanan Barak, who was killed in the same attack in which Shalit was abducted.


In Gaza, a spokesman of the Popular Resistance Committees that is holding Shalit said he has chosen get married on the anniversary of the kidnapping.


Gilad Shalit was abducted into the Gaza Strip 1,093 days ago


Roni Sofer contributed to this report


פרסום ראשון: 06.22.09, 17:08
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