Israel Political Brief December 18, 2011: 550 Palestinians released in second stage of Gilad Shalit prisoner swap

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Palestinians released in second stage of Shalit swap

Source: JTA, 12-18-11

Some 550 Palestinians were released from Israeli jails in the second stage of the prisoner swap for captured soldier Gilad Shalit.

 

The prisoners, including six women, were handed over by Israel on Sunday night. They left from the Ayalon Prison near Tel Aviv and were bused to four separate crossings in order to be released to the West Bank, Gaza Strip, eastern Jerusalem and Jordan.

Family members of the prisoners reportedly clashed with Israeli soldiers at the Beitunia crossing near Ramallah in the West Bank. As they waited for their relatives to go free, the family members threw rocks and firebombs at Israeli security services.

The list of prisoners to be released was posted four days ago on the Israel Prison Service’s website. None of the prisoners reportedly belongs to Hamas or Islamic Jihad, or was convicted of crimes involving the murder of Israelis, according to reports. Most are members of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah Party.

An appeal to delay the swap, filed by Israelis who had been victims of Palestinian attacks, was rejected Friday by Israel’s Supreme Court.

Some 477 Palestinian prisoners were released in mid-October in exchange for Shalit, who had spent more than five years held in Gaza by Hamas.

Israel Political Brief October 27, 2011: PM Benjamin Netanyahu Rides the Shalit Wave in Israel Polls

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Netanyahu Rides the Shalit Wave

Source: Virtual Jerusalem 10-27-11

There is no doubt that the results of the latest poll by the Smith Institute for “Globes” indicate a honeymoon for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The month, which began with his speech to the UN to frustrate Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s attempt to gain UN recognition for a Palestinian state, peaked with the return of Gilad Shalit. Netanyahu is seeing his broadest public support since the elections: were elections held today, the Likud would win 33 seats.

Likud voters are even more pleased with Netanyahu: nearly 80% of them who voted Likud in 2009 would do so again. The right wing-haredi (ultra-orthodox) bloc has reached a peak of 70 Knesset seats.

Netanyahu can definitely enjoy the polls, but he should remember President Shimon Peres’ remark that polls are like perfume: good to smell, but not to drink. As time passes, the Shalit effect will wane, and Netanyahu is liable to weaken.

The Shalit effect widened the gap between the coalition and leader of the opposition, Kadima chairwoman Tzipi Livni.

gilad shalit

Kadima’s loss of support, which began with the start of the summer’s social protest, is continuing, and the party is down to 17 Knesset seats, were elections held today.

After Livni failed to exploit the protest’s momentum to win support, her remarks about the Shalit prisoner exchange worsened her standing in the polls. Her infuriating remarks about the media coverage of Shalit’s return as a reality show apparently hit Israelis in a sensitive spot. We have not even mentioned MK Shaul Mofaz who is breathing down her neck.

The public prefers to support the Shalit deal. The poll clearly shows that it remembers only the short-term profit side of the deal, and that it is avoiding an examination of its negative consequences. Anyone who argues, as did Livni and Minister of Foreign Affairs Avigdor Liberman, who honestly expressed his position, that there is long-term danger in the deal, loses Knesset seats.

In contrast, Labor’s new chairwoman MK Shelly Yacimovich, who supported the Shalit deal from the opposition benches, saw an immediate gain. Labor would win 20 Knesset were elections held today, becoming the second largest party in the house.

Netanyahu and the Likud are reaping a dividend from nurturing Yacimovich. Likud’s support for her has brought results – she is hitting Kadima and strengthening at its expense.

Which party would you vote for were elections held today?

Figures in brackets are numbers of seats won at the last election.

Kadima: 17 Knesset seats, down from 25 in August. (28)
Likud: 33 seats, up from 26 in August. (27)
Israel Beitenu: 14 seats, down from 15 in August. (15)
Labor: 20 seats, up from 11 in August. (13)
Shas: 10 seats, down from 12 in August. (11)
United Torah Judaism: 6 seats, unchanged. (5)
National Union: 4 seats, down from 5 in August. (4)
Habayit Hayehudi: 3 seats, unchanged. (3)
Meretz: 3 seats, down from 4 in August. (3)
Arab parties: 10 seats, down from 11 in August.(11)
Green Party 0, down from 2 in August. (-)

The survey was carried out among a representative sample of 500 people.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news – http://www.globes-online.com

Israel Political Brief October 27, 2011: Ilan Grapel Lands at Ben Gurion Airport

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Ilan Grapel Lands at Ben Gurion

Source: Virtual Jerusalem, 10-27-11

Ilan Grapel was released from an Egyptian jail and boarded a jet bound for Israel on Thursday afternoon as a part of an ilan grapel ben gurion exchange for 25 Egyptians held in Israeli prisons, Reuters reported.

Grapel, 27, who has been held in Egypt for five months on spying charges, landed at Israel’s Ben Gurioun Airport shortly after 7PM local time.

Israeli representatives reported that Grapel was in good health and is happy to be free. His mother Irene met him at Ben-Gurion Airport. Grapel is expected to meet briefly with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday evening.
Ilan Grapel Hugs with his Mother Upon Arrival Avi Ohayon/GPO/FLASH90

Grapel was being escorted to Israel by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s envoy Yitzhak Molcho, and Kadima MK and former deputy Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) head Yisrael Hasson. Both men were insturmental in negotiating his release.

Meanwhile, the 25 Egyptian prisoners to be swapped for Grapel crossed into Egypt via the Taba crossing. According to the Israel Prison Service all of the Egyptian prisoners were serving time for criminal – rather than security-related – offenses.

ilan grapel ben gurion On Wednesday, MK Michael Ben Air took issue which that characterization saying, as weapons smugglers [who sold arms to terrorists -ed.] they should be classified as terrorists.

The United States, which provides Egypt with billions of dollars in military aid, took a hand in the negotiations due to Grapel’s dual American-Israeli citizenship.

The US-brokered exchange deal was reached on the heels of an Egyptian-brokered swap between Israel and Hamas that freed captive IDF soldier Gilad Shalit in exchange for more than 1,000 Palestinian security prisoners.

As a part of the deal to release him, the US has reportedly promised to Egypt’s ruling junta the F-16 strike fighter.

via israelnn.com

Israel Political Brief October 27, 2011: Illan Grapel Freed in Prisoner Exchange with Egypt

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Grapel Freed in Prisoner Exchange with Egypt

Source: Virtual Jerusalem, JTA, 10-27-11

Dual American-Israeli citizen Ilan Grapel reportedly has been handed over to Israeli authorities in Egypt.

Thursday afternoon’s release of Grapel, who has been held in Egypt since June and accused of being a spy, is part of the prisoner exchange between Egypt and Israel. He is scheduled to fly from Egypt to Israel on Thursday evening,

At the same time, 25 Egyptians were released from Israeli prisons and taken to the Taba border crossing for release. ilan grapel alleged israeli spy arrested in egyptThe Egyptians to be released under the Grapel deal, including three minors, are criminal and not security, prisoners, according to the Prime Minister’s Office.

U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-N.Y.) arrived in Israel late Wednesday to escort Grapel back to his parents’ home in New York, a statement from his office said. Grapel’s parents are Ackerman’s constituents and Grapel worked as an intern for the congressman.

Ackerman’s office said that the congressman had “personally” intervened with the Egyptian Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, the prime minister of Israel and the U.S. State Department to secure Grapel’s release.

Grapel, who has refuted the spying charges, is scheduled to be debriefed by Israeli defense officials before he leaves for New York.

Arab reports, including in the Palestinian news agency Maan, assert that the United States, which was heavily involved in the prisoner swap negotiations, agreed to sell to Egypt several F-16 fighter planes in order to grease the wheels of the swap.

Grapel, arrested in Cairo in June, was accused of espionage. Later he was accused as well of incitement and the attempted arson of the country’s Interior Ministry building and police headquarters in Cairo during January’s riots in the capital.

The agreement comes a little more than a week after captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was exchanged for more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in an agreement reached with the terrorist organization Hamas.

Egyptian security officials said Grapel entered the country shortly after the start of the Jan. 25 uprising that led to the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak and posed as a foreign correspondent. A law student at Emory University, Grapel allegedly said he was Muslim on the visa application that he filed with the Egyptian Embassy in Tel Aviv and then entered Egypt using his American passport.

Grapel moved to Israel following his graduation from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, served as a paratrooper during the Second Lebanon War and was wounded in Southern Lebanon in August 2006.

via jta.org

Israel Political Brief October 25, 2011: Shalits Try to Adjust to New Normal

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Shalits Try to Adjust to New Normal

Source: Virtual Jerusalem, JTA, 10-25-11

A week after Gilad Shalit returned to Israel after being held in captivity for more than five years in Gaza, things were getting back to normal at the Shalit family home — sort of.

The Israel Police said they would remove a barrier placed in front of the family’s house in Mitzpe Hila. The flowers, placards and other paraphernalia that littered the streets of the northern Israeli town following the celebration marking Shalit’s return have been cleaned up. Even the Shalit protest tent opposite the prime minister’s residence in Jerusalem was taken down and carted away.

But with the 10-day moratorium on Israeli media intrusion in the Shalits’ town set to expire, and with Israelis still eager for images of the newly released soldier, it’s unlikely that Gilad, 25, will be able to have a normal life anytime soon.

On Monday, Israeli President Shimon Peres paid a visit to the Shalit family home, the first visit by an Israeli official. Almost immediately, photos and video of Peres and Gilad Shalit sitting side by side on the family couch landed on Israeli news websites and TV programs.

“You have no idea how thrilled I am to meet you here in your home alive, healthy and whole,” Peres said. “I came to express to you how proud I am, and how proud the entire nation is, by your ability to withstand extremely difficult conditions in captivity.”

Shalit thanked the president.peres and shalit

A day earlier, Israeli opposition leader Tzipi Livni, head of the Kadima Party, slammed the prisoner swap that brought Shalit home Oct. 18 in exchange for the release of 1,027 Arab prisoners, saying it has weakened Israel and strengthened Hamas.

Her criticism during interviews with the Israeli daily Yediot Achronot and Reshet Bet Radio did not sit well with lawmakers in the coalition or the opposition. They swiftly assailed Livni for waiting until Shalit was freed to voice her opposition to the deal, saying it showed a lack of leadership. Livni reportedly did not go public earlier with her dissent at the request of Noam Shalit, the soldier’s father.

The Israeli Cabinet approved the deal by a 26-3 vote.

In the few days since his release, Shalit has been captured by news photographers lying in wait for his next move. He was pictured taking a short walk with his mother — and several security guards — on the first morning following his release and riding a bicycle near his home. He also has played Ping-Pong. On the Simchat Torah holiday, he met with old friends, his father told reporters.

The Shalits are starting to learn that they have to maneuver to avoid the paparazzi. On Saturday, Shalit and his father left home early and took a side road to evade photographers on their way to a beach outing reportedly at Gilad’s request. But a photographer from Haaretz was camping on the beach with his family and snapped a photo of the soldier swimming near the shore as his father watched over him.

“In the last few years I have taken many photographs of the Shalit family surrounded by countless cameras,” photographer Yaron Kaminsky told his newspaper. “It was nice to just run into them like that, at the beach, during Gilad’s first Saturday since being freed from captivity.”

Kaminsky said he told Noam Shalit that he had taken the photo and received his tacit approval to publish it.

Meanwhile, supporters and curiosity seekers continue to flock to Mitzpe Hila for a glimpse of Gilad or simply to have their photo taken in front of the Shalit family home. Many are leaving flowers, drawings and packages containing candy and other gifts for the family.

Noam has provided reporters with several updates since his son returned. On Oct. 20, he said he does not believe Hamas’ claims that Gilad was not tortured while in captivity.

“Gilad went through harsh things, at least in the first period. It is correct that after that, after that first period, the way he was treated improved,” the elder Shalit said.

During the same news conference in front of the family home, Noam Shalit also told reporters that Gilad had an appetite for food but that he was having trouble sleeping through the night. On the day of his release, Gilad appeared wan and pale.

Noam added that his son had few requests and that he was “going with the flow.”

via jta.org

Israel Political Brief October 24, 2011: Egypt Will Release Illan Grapel for Egyptian Prisoners

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Egypt Will Release Grapel for Egyptian Prisoners

Source: Virtual Jerusalem, JTA, 10-24-11

Egypt has agreed to release dual American-Israeli citizen Ilan Grapel in exchange for 25 Egyptians being held in Israeli prisons.ilan grapel alleged israeli spy arrested in egypt

The Egyptians, including three minors, are not security prisoners, the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement on the deal released Monday evening. They are being held on charges such as crossing the border illegally, drug trafficking and holding unlicensed weapons, according to reports.

Grapel, arrested in Cairo in June, was accused of espionage. Later he was accused as well of incitement and the attempted arson of the country’s Interior Ministry building and police headquarters in Cairo during January’s riots in the capital.

The agreement is subject to the approval of Israel’s Security Cabinet, which will meet to discuss the swap Tuesday, according to the Prime Minister’s Office.

The agreement comes less than a week after captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was exchanged for more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in an agreement reached with the terrorist organization Hamas.

Egyptian security officials said Grapel entered the country shortly after the start of the Jan. 25 uprising that led to the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak and posed as a foreign correspondent. A law student at Emory University, Grapel allegedly said he was Muslim on the visa application that he filed with the Egyptian Embassy in Tel Aviv and then entered Egypt using his American passport.

Grapel denies he is a spy. He says he came to Egypt to intern for a nongovernmental organization that assists refugees from Sudan and elsewhere.

Grapel is a New Yorker who moved to Israel following his graduation from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. He joined the Israeli army, served as a paratrooper during the Second Lebanon War and was wounded in Southern Lebanon in August 2006.

Via jta.org

Israel Political Brief October 18, 2011: Bereaved Families File Suit to Stop Terrorist Release

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Bereaved Families File Suit to Stop Terrorist Release

Source: Virtual Jerusalem, 10-18-11
shalitRelatives of victims of terrorist attacks have filed an emergency lawsuit against the release of terrorists in exchange for kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit. The suit was filed with the help of the Almagor organization for victims of terror.
The government has agreed to release more than 1,000 terrorists in exchange for Shalit, including murderers and those who took part in previous kidnappings of IDF soldiers. The release deal has been controversial, with some warning that it will cause a wave of terrorism, while others argue that the state has an obligation to return kidnapped soldiers.

The families of those murdered in the Sbarro spearheaded a suit against the release and have launched a campaign to remove the Sbarro murderess who drove the bomber to the site from the list of those to be released.. Fifteen people lost their lives in the suicide bombing. The number to call to join the campaign is 0524239870.

Among those filing suit is Hovev Nuriel, whose father Sasson was kidnapped and murdered by terrorists in 2005. The terrorists who murdered Sasson are to be released in the exchange.

Nuriel spoke to Arutz Sheva on Friday and explained that his primary concern is not for his own family, but for future victims.

“This [prisoner exchange] deal will lead to the loss of hundreds of lives, and will create more bereaved families and add to the pain and loss suffered by thousands of Israelis,” he said. “The deal sends the message that it is possible to deal with Israel through kidnapping and murder of Israeli citizens.”

“I know my father is not coming back,” he continued, “I am not speaking from a place of revenge, but rather, from solidarity. I am concerned for every citizen of Israel who could be hurt, whether by these same murderers or by other terrorists who get the message that they can continue to murder – because that is the message that the state and the government are sending.”

Another issue is justice, he said. “Where is the meaning of the judges’ verdict? Where is the justice in the state of Israel?” Murderers sentenced to life in prison are to be released after serving fewer than five years in prison, he noted.

Sayeed Ibrahim Mohammed Shalada, who stabbed Sasson Nuriel to death while the latter’s hands were tied, was sentenced to life in prison in 2007. In their verdict, the judges wrote, “The perpetrator took a person’s life with his own hands, acting calmly and with great cruelty. His actions force us to put him behind bars for the rest of his life.”

via israelnn.com

Israel Political Brief October 18, 2011: US, Obama Administration Criticizing Gilad Shalit Prisoner Swap Deal

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US Now Criticizing Shalit Deal

Source: Virtual Jerusalem, 10-18-11

US officials criticized Tuesday evening the deal brokered for the freedom of Gilad Shalit, which set hundreds of terrorists, including those who had murdered Israelis, free.

The criticism came after it became clear that the released terrorists included those who had murdered Jews with US citizenship.

Earlier on Tuesday, US President Barak Obama had, despite his own nation’s strict policy of not negotiating with terrorists for the release of its citizens, said he was pleased with the deal that set Shalit was free.

Obama also expressed the hope Israel and officials in Ramallah would take the steps necessary to return to the negotiating table.

Previously, US secretary of state Hillary Clinton also praised Israel for negotiating with terrorists to secure Shalit’s release.

French President Sarkozy welcomed the release of Gilad Shalit, saying France had breathed a sigh of relief. Visiting the port city of Nice, Sarkozy’s opined Shalit’s French citizenship helped keep him alive. He added that Gilad will visit France soon.

Britain’s foreign secretary William Hague also welcomed the release of Gilad Shalit, and like Obama, added he hoped the terrorists-for-Shalit deal would provide positive momentum allowing the resumption of peace talks.

It is unclear why the Shalit deal would provide any such momentum. Israel’s deal to release 1,027 security prisoners, some 450 convicted on terrorism charges, for Shalit was made with the Hamas terror organization in Gaza and not Palestinian Authority officials in Ramallah.

Hamas had vowed never to negotiate with Israel.

Via israelnn.com

Israel Political Brief Full Text Interview October 18, 2011: Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren Discusses with NPR Gilad Shalit Prisoner Swap

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Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren Discusses with NPR Gilad Shalit Prisoner Swap

Five years after he was captured by Hamas militants in Gaza in a cross-border raid, Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was returned to his home country. Michael Oren, Israeli ambassador to the U.S., talks with Robert Siegel about the deal that will free more than one thousand Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails in exchange for Shalit’s release Tuesday.

ROBERT SIEGEL, host: Joining us in the studio is Michael Oren, the Israeli ambassador to the United States. Mr. Ambassador, welcome once again.

MICHAEL OREN: Always good to be here, Robert.

SIEGEL: I want to ask you first about Israel’s dealings with Hamas over the prisoner swap. The Hamas official Mahmoud al-Zahar told Israeli army radio the other day that Palestinian President Abbas, a negotiator with Israel for a million years and hasn’t achieved a deal like this one. Has this agreement, in effect, elevated the standing of Hamas among Palestinians and in the world community at large?

OREN: Well, listen, there was a poll published just today by a Palestinian research center in Ramallah that shows that Hamas is imploding in terms of its political support, not only in the West Bank, but in Gaza itself. The economic situation in Gaza is miserable, for want of a better word, and Palestinians are looking from Gaza at the West Bank where there’s extraordinary economic growth, where hundreds of checkpoints have been removed and they’re asking their leadership, how come this isn’t happening here.

So, maybe they’ll receive a blip of support from the release of these prisoners today. But in the long run, their constituents are going to still be asking the hard questions. Why don’t we have the same future that Palestinians on the West Bank have?

SIEGEL: The head of the Israeli security agency, the Shin Bet, was quoted as saying in defense of this agreement, Hamas had to show some flexibility as we did. Was the description of a balanced negotiation, albeit through Egyptian mediators, do you and other Israelis come away from this with any hope for any more extensive negotiations with Hamas?

OREN: With Hamas? No. I mean, Hamas still is committed to Israel’s destruction. If you read its covenant, it’s committed not only to the annihilation of Israel, but to the obliteration of the Jews worldwide. It’s a genocidal covenant. And Hamas does not meet the criterion established by the quartet for joining negotiations. But what today’s events do prove is that the Israeli government under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is capable of making very hard, very painful decisions.

And if I were a Palestinian leader on the West Bank, I’d be looking at this government and saying, this is government that can deliver. This is a government that can make the hard choices and reach an historic peace with us.

SIEGEL: But if I were a Palestinian not in the government, wouldn’t I look at this and say, well, these Hamas people, they’ve been trying to isolate them for years. But in the clutch, when it came down to getting one Israeli soldier home, the Israelis delivered 1,100 prisoners to them.

OREN: Oh, I’d actually flip that around and say, look, Hamas, in order to get – in exchange for one Israeli prisoner, they received 1,027 Palestinian prisoners. I’d be looking at the great asymmetry of that and saying, what’s wrong with this picture. Wouldn’t it be better, instead of exchanging a soldier who was kidnapped on Israeli soil for people who are basically mass murderers, is that the best way of ensuring the future for my children and my grandchildren?

SIEGEL: Well, what would you say to those Israelis who were critical of this swap, who said, indeed, the people being freed include, say, the young woman who masterminded the bombing of the pizzeria in Jerusalem that claimed the lives of women and children, she’s out. She’s not repentant. She could be planning another plot in a couple years.

OREN: Well, I think that there’s a valid argument there. And as I say, we share in the joy of the Shalit family. We also partake in the pain of those who are victims of these terrorists. And I’m speaking as a – personal, as an Israeli, not just as the ambassador. I have three children who have been in the army, one who’s still serving. But my family has also been – has also suffered the loss of a very close family member in a bus bombing in Jerusalem. My eldest son was shot trying to apprehend one of these Hamas leaders. He’s fine today, but we bear these scars. So we understand the pain and we understand the risks.

But at the end of the day, Robert, Israel is a democracy that has a citizens army. And when we send our sons and our daughters off to defend our country, they have to know that if they fall captive or, God forbid, anything worse happens to them, that the state will do everything in their power to get them back. And that is the source of our strength.

SIEGEL: But Ambassador Oren, does the deal with Hamas make it more difficult for Israel to fault those who would negotiate with people they describe as terrorists? That is, Israel regards Hamas as terrorist. You had to deal with them. If you wanted Gilad Shalit back, you had to negotiate in some way with them. You did. Shouldn’t other countries do the same?

OREN: I’m not splitting hairs here by saying that we didn’t negotiate. We negotiated through the Egyptians and the Germans and we negotiated about a prisoner exchange. We didn’t negotiate peace. We didn’t negotiate territory for peace. It’s not about that because Hamas is not interested in peace. It’s about comparing lists and seeing, you know, which lists were palatable to us and which ones that Hamas could accept.

Eventually, we reached a deal. It’s a better deal that we reached today than we could’ve reached at any time in the last five years. And with the great changes sweeping the Arab world, we thought we had an opportunity here that might not exist in the coming months.

SIEGEL: Ambassador Oren, thank you very much for talking with us.

OREN: No problem.

SIEGEL: That’s Michael Oren, Israel’s ambassador to the United States. And later in the program, you can hear an interview with a representative of the group on the other side of that prisoner exchange, Hamas.

Israel Political Brief October 18, 2011: Gilad Shalit Returns Home to Israel

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Gilad Shalit Returns Home

Source: PMO

Gilad Shalit’s Meeting with IDF Representatives (video)

Shalit Family at Tel Nof IAF Base
Gilad Shalit with PM Netanyahu at Tel Nof IAF base
Gilad Shalit Meets with his Father Noam
Gilad Shalit with his Father Noam, PM Netanyahu and Minister of Defense Barak
Gilad Shalit Salutes PM Netanyahu
Gilad Shalit speaks with his family
PM Netanyahu Meets with Gilad Shalit

     גלעד שליט חזר הביתה

גלעד שליט ובני משפחתו עולים למסוק שלוקח אותם בחזרה הביתה למצפה הילה (וידאו)

גלעד שליט נוחת בבסיס חיל האויר תל נוף ומתקבל על ידי ראש הממשלה נתניהו, שר הביטחון ברק והרמטכ”ל רא”ל גנץ (וידאו)

ראש הממשלה נפגש עם המתווך הגרמני ועם נציג הקנצלרית מרקל

דברי ראש הממשלה נתניהו לאחר שחרור גלעד שליט

החייל גלעד שליט פגש את הוריו

גלעד שליט במפגש ראשוני עם נציגי צה”ל (וידאו)

ראש הממשלה נתניהו פוגש את גלעד שליט
גלעד שליט עם אביו נועם, ראש הממשלה נתניהו ושר הביטחון ברק
החייל גלעד שליט מצדיע לראש הממשלה נתניהו
משפחת שליט בבסיס תל נוף
גלעד שליט עם ראש הממשלה בהגעתו לבסיס בתל-נוף
גלעד שליט משוחח עם בני משפחתו
גלעד שליט נפגש עם אביו נועם

Israel Political Brief October 18, 2011: Gilad Shalit Arrives Home After Meeting PM Netanyahu & National Leaders

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Gilad Shalit Arrives Home After Meeting National Leaders

Source: Virtual Jerusalem, 10-18-11

A teary-eyed Israel, headed by the Shalit family, welcomed Gilad back home to Israel Tuesday after 1,941 days in captivity at the hands of Hamas and allied terrorists, some of whom continued to urge more kidnappings. He underwent medical tests before returning to his family home in the Galilee.

The soldier, who had changed into an IDF uniform, met his parents at the Tel Nof Air Force base near Tel Aviv after being initially received by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz.

The happiness, considered the fulfillment of the mitzvah of bringing back a Jew from captivity ,was mixed with the pain and fear that more Israelis will be murdered by the 1,027 terrorists and security prisoners who were freed in exchange for Shalit. That mitzvah hedged by halakha which is against redeeming a captive if it leads to more captives being taken.

In Gaza and Ramallah, thousands of Arabs wildly celebrated the return of the first batch of terrorists to Judea and Samaria. Others are to be deported.

Hamas leaders, including one of those released from jail, continued to call for more kidnappings of Israeli soldiers to gain the freedom of terrorists who were not included in the swap.

Yehiye Sinwar, who was freed by Israel after being sentenced for kidnapping and killing two soldiers, told Hamas television, “We shall spare no efforts to liberate the rest of our brothers and sisters. We urge the Al Qassam Brigades to kidnap more soldiers to exchange them for the freedom of our loved ones who are still behind bars”.

Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas showed willingness to unite with Hamas as he agreed to share the stage with the terrorist group’s local leaders during a welcoming ceremony in Ramallah.

gilad shalit
gilad shalit
gilad shalit
gilad shalit
gilad shalit

via israelnn.com

Israel Political Brief October 18, 2011: Gilad Shalit’s father Noam speaks after emotional reunion

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Gilad Shalit’s father speaks after emotional reunion

Source: The Jewish Chronicle, 10-18-11

Gilad Shalit with Ehud Barak, Benjamin Netanyahu and his father NoamGilad Shalit with Ehud Barak, Benjamin Netanyahu and his father Noam

Gilad Shalit’s father Noam has describing meeting his son for the first time in more than five years.

He said: “Today, it feels like my son has been reborn.”

Mr Shalit told the assembled press in his home town of Mitzpe Hila what it was like to bring his son home. “He came down the stairs, into the house, and through the door he left so long ago.

“Gilad is feeling well, he has a few light wounds which have not been treated well, some are shrapnel wounds, and he has also had a lack of sunlight. But he is just very happy to be home.

He said his son would not be coming out to greet the press or his supporters. “Obviously he finds it hard to be exposed to a big crowd after being alone and isolated for so many days and years.

“He did not communicate with anyone in his own language, he only spoke to kidnappers or guards. We hope he can be rehabilitated as quick as possible with the help of the IDF. We hope he can go back to normal life.

“The pilot of the chopper flew us over the town and Gilad looked down and waved at everyone. He saw the support he was getting along the roads.

He thanked the solidarity movement, the activists in Mitzpe Hila, the IDF and IAF and the Israeli government and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He said the decision to free more than 1000 Palestinian prisoners was “not easy.”

He added: “I feel for the bereaved families, we do understand their pain and the price paying for Gilad’s freedom.”

He said the family had sat down together for a meal and his son had discussed a ittle of what he went through in captivity. “He could listen to the radio, he had some TV, mostly Arabic TV stations. We didn’t ask for him for much, we just sat together, and he has not said much so far. But he did say that at the beginning he was treated very badly, but it had got better in last few years.”

Full Text Israel Political Brief October 18, 2011: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Remarks Following the Release of Gilad Shalit – Transcript

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PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Remarks Following the Release of Gilad Shalit

Source: PMO, 10-18-11

Photo: Moshe Milner, GPO

Citizens of Israel, today we are all united in joy and in pain.

Two-and-a-half years ago, I returned to the Prime Minister’s Office.  One of the principal and most complicated missions that I found on my desk, and which I set my heart to, was to bring our abducted soldier Gilad Shalit back home, alive and well.  Today, that mission has been completed.

It entailed a very difficult decision.  I saw the need to return home someone whom the State of Israel had sent to the battlefield.  As an IDF soldier and commander, I went out on dangerous missions many times.  But I always knew that if I or one of my comrades fell captive, the Government of Israel would do its utmost to return us home, and as Prime Minister, I have now carried this out.  As a leader who daily sends out soldiers to defend Israeli citizens, I believe that mutual responsibility is no mere slogan – it is a cornerstone of our existence here.

But I also see an additional need, that of minimizing the danger to the security of Israel’s citizens.  To this end, I enunciated two clear demands.  First, that senior Hamas leaders, including arch-murderers, remain in prison.  Second, that the overwhelming majority of those designated for release either be expelled or remain outside Judea and Samaria, in order to impede their ability to attack our citizens.

For years, Hamas strongly opposed these demands.  But several months ago, we received clear signs that it was prepared to back down from this opposition.  Tough negotiations were carried out, night and day, in Cairo, with the mediation of the Egyptian government.  We stood our ground, and when our main demands were met – I had to make a decision.

I know very well that the pain of the families of the victims of terrorism is too heavy to bear.  It is difficult to see the miscreants who murdered their loved ones being released before serving out their full sentences.  But I also knew that in the current diplomatic circumstances, this was the best agreement we could achieve, and there was no guarantee that the conditions which enabled it to be achieved would hold in the future.  It could be that Gilad would disappear; to my regret, such things have already happened.

I thought of Gilad and the five years that he spent rotting away in a Hamas cell.  I did not want his fate to be that of Ron Arad.  Ron fell captive exactly 25 years ago and has yet to return.  I remembered the noble Batya Arad.  I remembered her concern for her son Ron, right up until her passing.  At such moments, a leader finds himself alone and must make a decision.  I considered – and I decided.  Government ministers supported me by a large majority.

And today, now Gilad has returned home, to his family, his people and his country.  This is a very moving moment.  A short time ago, I embraced him as he came off the helicopter and escorted him to his parents, Aviva and Noam, and I said, ‘I have brought your son back home.’  But this is also a hard day; even if the price had been smaller, it would still have been heavy.

I would like to make it clear: We will continue to fight terrorism.  Any released terrorist who returns to terrorism – his blood is upon his head.  The State of Israel is different from its enemies: Here, we do not celebrate the release of murderers.  Here, we do not applaud those who took life.  On the contrary, we believe in the sanctity of life.  We sanctify life.  This is the ancient tradition of the Jewish People.

Citizens of Israel, in recent days, we have all seen national unity such as we have not seen in a long time.  Unity is the source of Israel’s strength, now and in the future.  Today, we all rejoice in Gilad Shalit’s return home to our free country, the State of Israel.  Tomorrow evening, we will celebrate Simchat Torah.  This coming Sabbath, we will read in synagogues, as the weekly portion from the prophets, the words of the prophet Isaiah (42:7): ‘To bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison-house.’  Today, I can say, on behalf of all Israelis, in the spirit of the eternal values of the Jewish People: ‘Your children shall return to their own border [Jeremiah 31:17].’  Am Yisrael Chai! [The People of Israel live!].

 

דברי ראש הממשלה בנימין נתניהו לאחר שחרור גלעד שליט

18/10/2011 – יום שלישי כ’ תשרי תשע”ב

הטקסט עבר התאמת עריכה –

אזרחי ישראל, ביום הזה כולנו מאוחדים בשמחה ובכאב.
לפני שנתיים וחצי חזרתי לתפקיד ראש הממשלה. אחת המשימות המרכזיות והמורכבות שמצאתי על שולחני, ואותה שמתי על לוח לבי, הייתה להחזיר את חיילנו החטוף גלעד שליט חי ובריא הביתה. היום המשימה הזאת הושלמה.

היא הייתה כרוכה בהחלטה קשה, קשה מאוד. אל מול עיניי עמד הצורך להחזיר הביתה את מי שנשלח על ידי מדינת ישראל לשדה הקרב. כחייל וכמפקד יצאתי פעמים רבות בשליחות צה”ל למשימות מסוכנות. אבל תמיד ידעתי שאם אני או חבריי ניפול בשבי, ממשלת ישראל תעשה כל שביכולתה כדי להחזירנו הביתה, וזה דבר שעכשיו ביצעתי כראש ממשלת ישראל. כמנהיג ששולח מדי יום חיילים להגן על אזרחי ישראל, אני מאמין שערבות הדדית אינה רק סיסמה – היא אחת מאבני היסוד של קיומנו כאן.

אבל לנגד עיניי עמד גם צורך נוסף, הצורך לצמצם ככל האפשר את הסכנה לביטחון אזרחי ישראל. ולשם כך הצבתי שתי דרישות ברורות. הראשונה: שצמרת החמאס, הכוללת רבי מרצחים, תישאר בכלא. והשנייה, שרובם המכריע של המשוחררים יגורשו או יישארו מחוץ לשטחי יהודה ושומרון, וזאת כדי להרחיק אותם מן היכולת לפגוע באזרחינו.

במשך שנים החמאס התנגד בתקיפות לדרישות אלה. אבל לפני מספר חודשים קיבלנו סימנים ברורים שהוא מוכן לסגת מהתנגדותו זו. במשך ימים ולילות התנהל בקהיר משא ומתן עיקש בתיווך ממשלת מצרים. עמדנו על שלנו, ומשנתקבלו עיקר דרישותינו – נדרשתי להכריע.
אני יודע היטב שכאבן של משפחות נפגעי הטרור הוא כבד מנשוא. קשה לראות את בני העוולה שרצחו את יקיריהן משתחררים בטרם מילאו את מלוא עונשם. אך ידעתי גם שבנסיבות המדיניות הנוכחיות זהו ההסכם הטוב ביותר שנוכל להשיגו, ולא היה שום ביטחון שהתנאים שאפשרו את השגתו, שהתנאים הללו יתקיימו בהמשך. ואז ייתכן שגלעד היה נעלם, לצערי דבר כזה כבר קרה בעבר.

חשבתי על גלעד ועל חמש השנים שהוא נָמָק בצינוק של החמאס. לא רציתי שגורלו יהיה כגורלו של רון ארד. רון נפל בשבי בדיוק לפני 25 שנים, ועד היום לא שב. זכרתי את בתיה ארד האצילה, זכרתי את כמיהתה לבנה רון  עד יום מותה. ידעתי שאני נושא באחריות כבדה. ידעתי את מלוא המשמעות של קבלת ההחלטה. ברגעים הללו מנהיג נמצא לבדו וצריך לקבל החלטה. שקלתי – והכרעתי. שרי הממשלה תמכו בהחלטה ברוב גדול.

והיום, עכשיו, גלעד שב הביתה, אל משפחתו ועמו ומדינתו. זהו רגע מרגש ביותר. לפני זמן קצר חיבקתי אותו ברדתו מהמטוס וליוויתי אותו להוריו אביבה ונועם, ואמרתי: החזרתי את בנכם הביתה. אבל זהו גם יום קשה. כי גם אם המחיר צומצם, הוא עדיין כבד.
אני מבקש להבהיר: נמשיך להילחם בטרור. וכל מחבל משוחרר שיחזור לטרור  – דמו בראשו.  מדינת ישראל נבדלת מאויביה. כאן לא חוגגים שחרור של רוצחים, כאן לא נושאים על כפיים את אלה שגדעו חיים. להיפך, אנחנו מאמינים בקדושת החיים, אנחנו מקדשים את החיים. זוהי מסורת עתיקה בעמנו, העם היהודי.

אזרחי ישראל, בימים האחרונים ראינו כולנו לכידות בעם שלא נראתה זמן רב. ואחדות זו היא מקור עוצמה לישראל בהווה ובעתיד. כולנו מִתְבָּרְכִים היום בהשבתו של גלעד הביתה אל מדינתנו החופשית, מדינת ישראל. מחר אנחנו נחגוג את ערב שמחת תורה. בשבת יקראו בבתי הכנסת בהפטרה של פרשת בראשית את דברי הנביא ישעיהו: ‘להוציא ממסגר אסיר, מבית כלא יושבי חושך’. וביום הזה אני יכול לומר בשם כולכם אזרחי ישראל, ברוח ערכי הנצח של עם ישראל: ושבו בנים לגבולם, עם ישראל חי!

 

Full Text Israel Political Brief October 18, 2011: Ambassador Michael Oren’s Remarks on the Release of Gilad Shalit – Transcript

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Welcome Home: Ambassador Michael Oren’s Remarks on the Release of Gilad Shalit

Today, the people of Israel and our supporters worldwide share in the joy of the Shalit family who were reunited with their beloved Gilad, held for five agonizing years by Hamas terrorists. As we witness this expression of happiness, we take pride in the strength and unity of the people of Israel and of their unwavering commitment to redeem prisoners who have fallen into enemy hands. We reaffirm the covenant between the State of Israel and its citizen army that exalts the principle that no soldier is ever left behind. Today, too, we are pained by the price we have paid in order to secure Gilad’s release, and we share the torment of those for whom this price is intensely personal.

We are hopeful that the Palestinian leadership will work to prevent any future terrorist attacks and renounce the violent acts perpetrated by many of those Palestinian prisoners who will be released.  Today is an opportunity for the Palestinian people to display the humanity and dignity that have given expression throughout the Arab world this year by turning their backs on the convicted murderers and those who laud them.

Israel will continue to defend itself in the face of multiple threats and withstand the attempts of those who seek to destroy us. We will be girded by our love of life, trusting in its supremacy — moral as well as military – over those who love death. We will make the hard choices, whether in war or in peace, to ensure the safety and integrity of Israel – the State, the Land, and its people.


Gilad, his father Noam, Prime Minister Netanyahu, and Defense Minister Barak.

Israel Political Brief October 18, 2011: Finally free, Gilad Shalit returns to Israel

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Finally free, Gilad Shalit returns to Israel

Source: JTA, 10-18-11

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu looks on as freed Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit is embraced by his father, Noam, at Israel's Tel Nef Air Force base shortly after Shalit's release from more than five years of captivity, Oct. 18, 2011. (GPO)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu greets Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit at the Tel Nof Air Force base in Israel shortly after his release from captivity, Oct. 18, 2011. (Avi Ohayon / GPO)
 

 

 

 

 

 

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu greets Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit at the Tel Nof Air Force base in Israel shortly after his release from captivity, Oct. 18, 2011. (Avi Ohayon / GPO)

Gilad Shalit was reunited with his family shortly after crossing into Israel from Egypt after his release earlier in the day by his captors in Gaza, ending five years and four months in captivity.

The Israel Defense Forces spokesman announced Shalit’s return at 11 a.m. Tuesday Israel time. Shalit arrived in Egypt approximately three hours earlier.

Images of Shalit walking were broadcast by Egyptian TV, and in an interview Shalit said he was treated well by his captors but that he missed family, friends and freedom. The IDF reported that Shalit is in good health.

After meeting with IDF officials and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Shalit was met by family members, and images of him embracing his father, Noam, were broadcast throughout Israel.

Shalit’s release came as Israel began transferring 477 Palestinian prisoners to the Red Cross as part of a swap deal between Israel and Hamas that will see the release of more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails. Eyewitnesses confirmed that some of the prisoners had begun entering Gaza.

Shalit’s family was waiting for him at the Tel Nof Air Force base, where he was to be taken after crossing into Israel.

Shalit had been held in Gaza since being captured by Hamas in a cross-border raid in June 2006.

Israel Political Brief October 18, 2011: Egyptian TV Interview Asks Gilad Shalit to Join Campaign to Free Palestinian Prisoners

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Egyptian TV Asks Shalit to Join Campaign to Free Palestinian Prisoners

Source: Virtual Jerusalem, 10-18-11
In an interview Egypt conducted with with Gilad Shalit before releasing him to Israeli custody, an interviewer asked Shalit if he would join a campaign to help the more than 4,000 Palestinian prisoners still held “languishing” in Israeli prisons. The interview was aired on Egyptian and other Arab stations.

Israeli news carried the interview at the same time that it was first being aired on Arab television. The interview questions were asked in English, then translated. Gilad responded in Hebrew and English, which was promptly translated to Arabic.

After asking Shalit if Hamas treated him well, and “what he missed most,” the interviewer looked directly at Shalit, saying: “You’ve known what it’s like to be in captivity. There are more than 4,000 Palestinian prisoners languishing in Israeli jails, will you now join the campaign for their release?”

“I’ll be very happy if they are released, but only if they don’t go back to fight Israel, to more wars.” Shalit responded. Shalit, who appears to be in good physical health, though very pale, and breathing heavily, waited a moment before adding that they should join the fight for peace.

This statement was apparently not translated into Arabic for their viewing public.

gilad shalit released

The general consensus in the Israeli media is that while this strange interview was disturbing and borderline abusive, Shalit responded beautifully, especially under the difficult and uncomfortable circumstances.

Gilad was still in Egyptian custody when he gave this interview. The interview began with the question: “Gilad Shalit, you look fine! How are you?”

It has been confirmed that Shalit has had a very emotional conversation with his family on the phone.

UPDATE: After undergoing a medical examination, Gilad Shalit was taken home to Mitzpeh Hila where he was greeted by thousands of supporters.

Israel Political Brief October 17, 2011: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Letter to Families of Victims of Shalit-Deal Prisoners

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Netanyahu writes to families of victims of Shalit-deal prisoners

Source: JTA, 10-17-11

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wrote to family members of the victims of attacks perpetrated by some of the 1,027 prisoners to be released in return for kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit.

In the letters issued Monday, Netanyahu tells the families that he understands their “negative feelings” toward the deal because of the death of his brother Jonathan, who was the sole casualty of the 1976 Israeli operation to free hostages at the Entebbe Airport in Uganda.

“In my many deliberations throughout the negotiations, you were always on my mind,” he wrote, according to the Prime Minister’s Office. “The decision to release Gilad Shalit was one of the most difficult ones I have ever made. It’s difficult for me for the same reason it’s difficult for you, dear family members.

Dozens of those families and other protesters marched Monday morning to the Supreme Court in Jerusalem, where a three-justice panel convened to hear petitions opposing the deal. The release of the Palestinian prisoners is scheduled to begin Tuesday; Shalit is to gain his freedom on the same day.

The petition was filed by the Almagor Terror Victims Assocation, which asked the court to cancel the prisoner swap deal. The association also asked the court to delay the releases to allow more time to study the list and make objections. Several families also have filed separate petitions against the release of particular prisoners.

Shalit’s father, Noam, also attended the proceedings and submitted his own response to the petitions, arguing that “any change in its delicate framework could torpedo the entire deal.”

The Prime Minister’s Office also announced Monday that Gilad Shalit will be promoted to the rank of sergeant-major in time for his release, which is expected to come Tuesday. He was a corporal when he was captured in a cross-border raid in June 2006, and since then has been promoted twice.

 

Letter from PM Benjamin Netanyahu to Bereaved Families

Source: PMO, 10-17-11

Dear Families,

I write to you with a heavy heart.  I understand and know your pain.

I belong to a bereaved family of the victims and fallen of terrorism.  By brother was killed in the operation to rescue the Entebbe hostages.

I know that you have a heavy heart and that your wounds have been opened anew these past days; that your thoughts are not at ease.

Numerous misgivings accompanied me throughout the negotiations on the agreement to return the abducted soldier Gilad Shalit.  You were always in my thoughts.

The decision in the matter of the release of Gilad Shalit was among the most difficult that I have ever made.  It is difficult for me for the same reasons that it is difficult for you, dear families.

In the decision to return Gilad home, I was faced with the responsibility of the Prime Minister of Israel to bring home every soldier who is sent to protect our citizens.

I also, when I went off to fight in the name of the State of Israel, knew always: The State of Israel does not abandon its soldiers and citizens.

Opposite the strong desire to return home a captive soldier, was the need to limit the heavy price that the State of Israel would have to pay upon the abduction of Gilad Shalit over five years ago.

I know that the price is very heavy for you.  I understand the difficulty to countenance that the evil people who perpetrated the appalling crimes against your loved ones will not pay the full price that they deserve.

During these moments I hope that you will find solace that I and the entire nation of Israel embrace you and share your pain.

Your loved ones will forever be in my heart,

Yours in pain and deep sorrow for your loved ones,

Benjamin Netanyahu

Hamas confirms: We refused Shalit deal

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Hamas confirms: We refused Shalit deal

Hamas’s Abu Marzouk told “Al Hayat” that Hamas rejected the offer by the German mediator.

After repeated denials, Hamas today confirmed that it received an offer via the German mediator in negotiations on deal to bring about the release of captured Israeli soldier Gilat Shalit. Hamas political bureau deputy chief Mousa Mohammed Abu Marzouk told Arabic newspaper “Al Hayat”, which is published in London, that it rejected the offer as “unfair”. Abu Marzouk is based in Damascus.

Abu Marzouk said that the mediator had accepted Israel’s position, which he called “extreme and unfair”.

“The extremism of the Netanyahu government is to be expected from an extreme right-wing government, but the fact that the German mediator has adopted this position – that is unacceptable,” Abu Marzouk to “Al Hayat”. “There is no chance that the German mediator will return, because he is not carrying out his duties and is failing in his mission. We all expected that he would present a fair and not extreme position. But instead of trying to reduce the demands of the Israeli government, he accepted its terms.”

“The matter was recently handed over to Egypt to deal with it,” said Abu Marzouk. “Hamas wants the deal to succeed, and obtain the release of Palestinian prisoners, but only in the framework of a national and honorable deal.”

“Al Hayat” quotes a senior Egyptian source, who called on Israel to demonstrate “a positive position on an exchange of prisoners”. The source, who is a party to the negotiations, blamed the Israeli government for the lack of a deal, saying, “If the Israelis really want Shalit to be freed and to receive him as part of an exchange with Hamas, they must cooperate positively and demonstrate sufficient flexibility for talks to be held.”

Commenting on the recent talks by Netanyahu advisor Yitzhak Molcho with Egyptian General Intelligence Directorate Director Murad Mawafi, the Egyptian source said, “The talks dealt with a number of issues in Israeli-Egyptian relations. We told him that if Israel really wanted Shalit’s release, it had to offer acceptable positions.”

Abu Marzouk’s remarks to “Al Hayat” highlight the conflicting versions of events issued by Hamas’s leaders in the past few days about the Shalit negotiations. Yesterday, an official statement by Hamas in Gaza said that it had not rejected the offer by the German mediator. Commenting on Netanyahu’s opening remarks at yesterday’s cabinet meeting, Hamas said, “Prime Minister Netanyahu is lying”.

Jerusalem says that the internal dispute in Hamas, mainly over the Shalit negotiations, is the main obstacle to striking a deal.

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

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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

63% of Israelis back swap deal to free Shalit

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Source: AFP, 6-21-11

Nearly two-thirds of Israelis back a prisoner exchange deal which would see 1,000 Palestinians inmates released in order to free captured soldier Gilad Shalit, a poll showed on Tuesday.

The poll, conducted by the Rafi Smith Institute and published in Haaretz newspaper, asked respondents if they would back such a deal even if it meant the release of 450 prisoners with blood on their hands, with 63 percent in favour and 19 percent against.

Another 18 percent of the 600 respondents had no opinion.

The results showed an increase in support from an earlier survey conducted in February, in which 61 percent backed such a deal, while 25 were opposed, Haaretz said.

The poll was conducted on behalf of the campaign for the release of the captive soldier who has been held by Palestinian militants in Gaza for nearly five years. It did not give a margin of error….READ MORE

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