Israel Brief September 13, 2011: Noam Shalit Takes Gilad’s Case to UN



Noam Shalit Takes Gilad’s Case to UN

Source: Virtual Jerusalem, 9-13-11

Noam Shalit, the father of captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, wants his son’s plight to be part of the discussion of Palestinian statehood at the United Nations in September.

In his view, Shalit’s release should be a precondition of any vote at the United Nations on recognition of a Palestinian state.

Shalit was in New York last week meeting with U.N. ambassadors from various nations, including pro-Palestinian ones, noam shalitto make his case that .

Whether or not they’ll take his view into consideration is an open question. But in at least one corner, Shalit won considerable sympathy: The City Council of New York proclaimed Sept. 7 Gilad Shalit day.

The point of Shalit’s trip was to keep the issue of his son’s captivity from being forgotten amid world events, and to use those events as a lever to secure Gilad’s release.

“We hope he’ll be home for Rosh Hashanah,” Shalit told a meeting of the New York City Council, saying a prisoner-exchange deal between Israel and Hamas is “the only way.”

In a 30-minute interview with JTA last Friday, Shalit talked about the need to put pressure on all sides using whatever tools are available. In the more than five years since Gilad Shalit was captured in a cross-border raid on the Israel-Gaza frontier in June 2006, the Shalit family has done all it can to make sure the plight of the captive soldier remains high on Israelis’ minds.

Shalit and his wife, Aviva, set up a protest tent opposite the prime minister’s residence in Jerusalem that has not budged in more than two years. They’ve held nationwide marches, disrupted Independence Day ceremonies and prompted myriad campaigns to pressure the Israeli government to cut a deal with Hamas, including a recent one for Shalit’s 25th birthday. There are Free Shalit wristbands, bumper stickers and banners.

Last week, Shalit met in the United States with American Jewish organizations to strategize on how to lobby the Obama administration to put more pressure on the Palestinian Authority, which he believes can pressure Hamas. Shalit dismisses the notion that the Palestinian Authority cannot influence Hamas or does not share responsibility for his son’s captivity.

“How can they say they have no leverage on Hamas?” he said. “The Palestinian Authority is going to the U.N. to appeal for one Palestinian entity, not two. They want one state for the Palestinian people. The Palestinian Authority cannot absolve itself of responsibility; it holds responsibility for all the Palestinian people.”

Indirect negotiations between Israel and Hamas for Gilad Shalit’s release resumed recently in Cairo, Shalit said, but he remains pessimistic.

“The new Egyptian administration has taken the lead again,” Shalit said. “It is now new people, but Egyptians are the same. We need to urge the Egyptians to move on fast and effectively; we don’t have another three years to spend with negotiations.”

At the United Nations last week, Shalit’s focus was the Palestinian Authority. He said he met with more a dozen U.N. ambassadors to urge them to block any statehood recognition until his son is free. Of particular importance, he said, were his meetings with countries that already have recognized the state of Palestine, such as Argentina.

“We are not dealing with politics,” Shalit told JTA. “We are not asking them to vote for or against a Palestinian state. We just believe that a first step, as a precondition, they should comply with international law.”

The leaders of the world, he said, have to tell the Palestinians, “Look, you cannot go on with this violation of international and humanitarian law and at the same time ask for legitimacy and recognition. It is very basic. They don’t go together.”


Gilad Shalit’s Imprisonment 5 Years Later


Five years on, Shalit’s imprisonment an open wound for Israel

Source: JTA, 6-26-11

Noam Shalit, father of captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, sits beneath a banner depicting his son and Ron Arad, the missing-but-assumed-dead Israeli airman, in a protest tent near the prime minister's residence in Jerusalem, June 2, 2011. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)

Michal Naamani traveled to Jerusalem from her home near Kfar Saba to hand out yellow ribbons to passers-by and bumper stickers to motorists reading “Gilad is alive.”

Naamani, a high school teacher, felt that she wanted to do something to help captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

“I’m a mother. I have a younger brother doing reserve duty,” Naamani told JTA on Friday, the day before the ifth anniversary of Shalit’s capture in a raid on the Gaza-Israel border that left two other soldiers dead. “I’m here because if it was my son, I would want someone to support me as well.”

Shalit’s family members have done practically everything they can think of to keep Gilad in the public eye.

Last year they marked the anniversary of his capture by marching from their home in northern Israel to Jerusalem, with thousands of Israelis joining them for part of the way. This year Gilad’s older brother, Yoel, disrupted Israel’s state ceremony on Israeli Independence Day.

“We say to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, you have no mandate to sentence Gilad to death,” Noam Shalit, Gilad’s father, said during a news conference Sunday morning outside the prime minister’s official residence in Jerusalem, where the family announced a new campaign to garner more tangible public support for striking a deal to bring home Shalit.

Shalit family members chained themselves together outside the residence in Jerusalem on Saturday night, as hundreds of supporters gathered in support. Others protested outside Netanyahu’s home in Caesarea.

Meanwhile, dozens of Israeli celebrities and politicians marked 24 hours beginning Saturday night at Herzliya Studios, Israel’s largest TV facility, with each spending an hour in “solitary confinement” in solidarity with the captured soldier.

Netanyahu, meanwhile, announced that his government had accepted a German-mediated deal to free Shalit.

“This proposal was harsh; it was not simple for the State of Israel,” Netanyahu said Sunday in a statement released after the weekly Cabinet meeting. “However, we agreed to accept it in the belief that it was balanced between our desire to secure Gilad’s release and to prevent possible harm to the lives and security of the Israeli people. As of now, we have yet to receive Hamas’s official answer to the German mediator’s proposal.”

Netanyahu did not specify the terms of the proposal, but said that “The State of Israel is ready to go far, more than any other country, in order to secure Gilad’s release but it is my responsibility, and the responsibility of those who are sitting here, to see to the security and lives of the Israeli people.”

Five years on and without a clear sign that a prisoner-exchange deal with Hamas is in the offing or even that their son is still alive, the Shalits have become a symbol of what Israelis — whose children are subject to mandatory military service — fear most….READ MORE

Gilad Shalit 5 Years Later: Jerusalem, Hundreds arrive at Shalit tent to mark 5 years since kidnapping


Source: YNet News, 6-25-11

Hundreds arrived at the Shalit family tent in Jerusalem to mark five years since the kidnapping of soldier Gilad Shalit.

Activists blocked the street outside the prime minister’s house while carrying signs saying: “Mr. prime minister, can one return from captivity only in a coffin?” and “Bibi, I’m sorry I’m alive. Gilad Shalit.” (Omri Efraim)

Gilad Shalit 5 Years Later: After five years of Shalit deal impasse, recent diplomatic moves bring new hope


Source: Haaretz, 6-24-11

Sources involved in the talks say despite extremist positions voiced by both sides, the outlines of the deal have long been known: the release, in two phases, of 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Shalit.


The fifth year of Gilad Shalit’s captivity, which ends today, brought no better news than its predecessors. It had the usual mix of lip service and grand protests – yielding nothing except publicity for their creators and unfounded, optimistic reports about supposed progress in the negotiations.

There were a few developments between last June and now, but effectively the negotiations remained where they ran aground in December 2009, with what appears to be a nearly unbridgeable gap between Israel’s maximum offer and Hamas’ minimal demand.

Gilad Shalit Jabalya residents walking yesterday past a mural depicting captured soldier Gilad Shalit.
Photo by: Reuters

Sources involved in the talks say that despite the extremist positions being put forth publicly by both sides, the outlines of the deal have long been known, and that it’s clear to everyone they contain the only possible solution: the release, in two phases, of 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Shalit.

The sources expressed the hope that no reckless measures will impede the talks. Were they warning against an attempt to abduct another Israeli soldier?

For now, it appears that disagreement over the fate of a few dozen senior prisoners, arch-terrorists, is holding up the deal. Will they all be freed? Will those from the West Bank be exiled to the Gaza Strip or abroad?

Perhaps only a radical combination of external circumstances, such as continued unrest in the Middle East or real movement in the relationship among Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, could bring the negotiations out of their coma.

There were a few localized changes on the negotiations front: Senior Mossad official David Meidan replaced Haggai Hadas as chief negotiator; Egypt returned to the picture in providing assistance to German mediator Gerhard Conrad, giving a big boost to Cairo’s relations with the Hamas leadership in Gaza. But the key is still the parties’ willingness to move forward.

For now, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appears unwilling to cross the line he drew a year and a half ago. Hamas, particularly the armed wing of the organization that is holding Shalit, continues to make unreasonable demands….READ MORE

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