Meeting between Peres, Shalits
Photo: Gil Yohanan

Aviva Shalit: We need action, not empathy

President visits Shalit tent, says he is 'optimistic' while Hamas urges Israel comply with demands

President Shomon Peres visited the Shalit family protest tent Monday, on the eve of the Passover holiday and the marking of 1,758 days to the capture of IDF soldier Gilad Shalit.


"We don't need empathy and identification, but rather the help of action," Aviva told the president, who said he felt he was "on their side".


The president sat down for a talk with Noam and Aviva Shalit, the soldier's parents, as well as representatives from Mothers for Shalit organization.


Peres sat with the Shalits for 50 minutes, after which he told reporters, "I feel I am on the side of the family, not against them but for them. People say I'm an optimist – well, I'm optimistic now too. I am convinced with all my being that we will see Gilad alive and well at home."


Noam Shalit said he and his wife had asked the president "to go beyond empathizing and influence matters so Gilad can come home after half a decade in captivity".


A spokeswoman from Mothers for Shalit told Ynet, "We stressed before the president that this is a national problem and not just a family's private concern. We told him that the scar left by Ron Arad will become a bleeding wound if we do not get Gilad back home." 


The president followed a visit by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Sunday evening, who arrived with wife Sara.


Netanyahu informed the Shalits of the new special negotiator he has appointed to replace Hagai Hadas in efforts to release their son – David Meidan, a senior section chief at the Mossad.


"It was important to me to prevent a vacuum on this issue," the prime minister said. "I promise you that in the coming days and weeks we shall continue pursuing all available means to bring about Gilad's release."


Father 'disappointed' with PM

Noam Shalit left the meeting with the premier disappointed. "We were invited to the prime minister's residence for an update. We were told we would be given data. Sadly, the only update we got was regarding the identity of the new negotiator to replace Hagai Hadas," he told reporters.


"We didn’t learn anything new about efforts to release Gilad. Sadly we were told efforts were made, but no results. The prime minister is basically admitting that ultimately nothing is happening or progressing."


Hamas spokesman Mahmoud al-Zahar said Sunday night that any deal for Shalit would be negotiated on Hamas's terms.


"The occupation must understand that all attempts over the last five years have failed due to the patience of Hamas and the Palestinian people," he said. He called on the new negotiator to cede to the group's demands.


"Pressure will not help to complete the deal," he said, adding that Hamas saw its prisoners in Israel as "living martyrs".



פרסום ראשון: 04.18.11, 10:36
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