Barak: Still committed
Photo: Yaron Brener
Noam Shalit. Met with Hadas
Photo: AP
Barak says committed to bringing Shalit home
Defense minister says Israel will do anything possible, but will not pay any price to free captive soldier

Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Wednesday that Israel was still committed to bringing home kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit and that it would do anything possible to further his release, although it would not pay any price.


"We are still attentive to the matter of Gilad Shalit," Barak said during an education conference in Holon. "I don't want to add to the headlines do I will just say: We remain ethically and militarily committed to bringing Gilad home safe and sound."


Meanwhile, Shalit's father Noam met with Hagai Hadas, Israel's representative to talks on his son's release from captivity. The meeting was described as an "update".


The Shalit campaign headquarters stated that the meeting had been scheduled in advance, and that it was related to daily updates and not "developments reported by the media".


'IDF more prepared than ever'

During the Holon conference, Barak also addressed a possibility of resuming peace negotiations with the Palestinians. The Labor chairman said the current government was committed to the Road Map, stating that his party "is there to ensure that this determination does not wear out, and that we don't lose eye contact."


The defense minister expressed his hope that significant talks would be launched within a few weeks. "I am a great believer in a regional peace agreement, and the United States plays an important role in pushing the process forward."


Barak addressed the outpost issue as well. "I would like to remind everyone that this is a commitment made of several governments – Ariel Sharon's, Ehud Olmert's, and the current one," he said. "We owe it to ourselves to maintain norms of abiding by the law and of a democratic society."


Barak said, "We are in a period of challenges and unusual opportunities. We have threats on the part of Hezbollah and Hamas, and the IDF is more prepared than ever.


He claimed that the Second Lebanon War had improved Israel's deterrence in the eyes of Hezbollah, noting that "we are more prepared on the ground as well. In the coming years, rocket and missile interception systems will be introduced in a gradual manner, and we are investing huge sums of money in a multi-layered system, which will help with the deterrence."


Ahead of the upcoming school year, Barak said that "education must continue being a top national priority."


Ahiya Raved contributed to this report


פרסום ראשון: 08.26.09, 19:52
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