"I am not a politician or a diplomat and I do not represent Israel. I am simply the father of a soldier abducted by Hamas five years ago, while his unit was in a defensive position.
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"We go to sleep at night distressed over the lack of information about Gilad's condition and our fears for his very life," Shalit said, aiming his statements at the Palestinian Authority that launched its campaign for state recognition in the UN on Thursday.
The captive soldier's father called on the Palestinian Authority to release his son before submitting a request for state recognition at the UN.
Shalit met with western diplomats but the Palestinian representative Riyad Mansour refused to meet with him.
Noam Shalit in New York (Photo: AP)
"It is impossible to request recognition while at the same time you're signing agreements with Hamas and breaking international law in such a serious manner," Shalit told reporters, including reporters from Lebanon, Pakistan and other Arab and Muslim countries.
"My son is not a prisoner of war he is a hostage held for the purpose of extortion," noted Shalit. "Hamas is holding him as a bargaining chip. Soon, the UN will be holding a vote over the Palestinian Authority's request to upgrade its UN status.
Responsible for Gilad"I would like to remind the Palestinian leaders that they signed a unity agreement with the Hamas and they cannot break international law, they are responsible for Gilad and they must act with determination to bring about his immediate release."
Shalit stressed that the last proof of life received from Gilad was in September 2009 and said this was in direct violation of his human rights.
"We have no information on his physical condition, we don't even know if he's alive. We don't know him anymore. He was not even 20 years-old when he was captured. Now he's 25 years-old.
"He has spent a fifth of his life in a Hamas prison without daylight, without any connection with the outside world, without his human rights. It is impossible to imagine what he's going through."
Addressing the recent negotiation efforts for his son's release, Shalit said that Egypt has once again taken on the mediator role but emphasized: "We have yet to receive any news on new developments."
Arab reporters asked Shalit about the Palestinians imprisoned in Israel and he responded: "Israel was willing to release 1,000 Palestinian prisoners for Gilad.
"That was the last offer through the German mediator last February – which Hamas rejected. It was not the first offer. Many Palestinians could have been home two, three years ago but each deal was rejected by the Palestinians."
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