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'The problem is not on our side'. Shimon Peres
Photo: Reuters
Noam and Aviva Shalit. Continue to meet with ministers
Photo: Gil Yohanan
Peres says will have to pardon many prisoners
President meets with high school students, talks about Shalit deal negotiations. Despite high price, he says, government acting responsibly to bring kidnapped soldier back home. 'Gilad has become a symbol for the Israeli youth and state,' he says

President Shimon Peres met Wednesday morning with high school students from the southern Kibbutz Yotvata in the Hevel Eilot Regional Council.

 

The president answered students' questions about the negotiations taking place to return kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit and said:"I will have to pardon many of the released prisoners if there's a deal."

 

A student from Maale Shaharut School asked the president for his opinion on releasing terrorists with "blood on their hands'. The president replied that "the price the government agreed to pay is high and difficult to do. I would lean toward different options, but we tried those in the past, and lost a soldier."

 

Peres noted that his involvement as a president included receiving updates and signing the pardons.

"I believe (Gilad) Shalit has become a symbol for the Israeli youth and the state. If Hamas returns to its original demands, which are high as it is, we will see Gilad returning home," he said.

 

Peres further claimed that "the problem is not on the side of the Israeli government, but rather on the other side. There is a disagreement between the interior and foreign Hamas factions."

 

The president also referred to media reports and said there is no room for those, because they interrupt the negotiation process. "The government is acting full heartedly and responsibly to bring him home," he said.

 

Also Wednesday, Interior Minister Eli Yishai met with Gilad Shalit's parents, Noam and Aviva, in his Jerusalem office.

 

Following the meeting Yishai said, "Discussion of cost and details causes tremendous damage. Unlike them, we are a democratic country; they read every word and every comment made by public figures, which only drifts us away from our goal."

 

Yishai added that "we have mutual guarantee, like nowhere else in the world, which inevitably makes negotiations extremely difficult. Meanwhile, the other side does not hold the value for life in high regard."

 

Ronen Medzini contributed to this report

 

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