Olmert meets Shalits, to make announcement on talks
JERUSALEM — The family of Gilad Shalit met with Ehud Olmert following a three-hour Cabinet meeting on talks to secure the kidnapped soldier’s release.
Shalit’s family met with the prime minister late Tuesday afternoon. Olmert is scheduled to announce details of the Cabinet meeting convened to discuss the negotiations, which reportedly ended in a deadlock on Monday night, at 8 p.m. Israel time Tuesday.
During the meeting, Shin Bet director Yuval Diskin said he was not opposed to the Cabinet’s plans to publicize the list of prisoners that would be freed, according to reports.
The Jerusalem Post quoted ministers coming out of the meeting as saying the negotiations over Shalit were “stuck.”
“Hamas made demands that no Israeli government would have been able to accept,” Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann was quoted as saying.
Each minister at the meeting was given a letter from the Shalit family and its supporters.
A letter by Shalit’s father, Noam, given to Olmert shortly before the Cabinet meeting read: “We demand that you bring Gilad home before the end of your term, despite the heavy price this entails.
“I am turning to you for the last time on behalf of my family, which is waiting for its son who is locked up in Hamas’ dungeons; 996 days have passed since Gilad was kidnapped during your tenure as PM. For nearly three years he has been abandoned in dark burrows, and those who sent him do not know what condition he’s in. This letter is a prayer for my son. I am asking you — father to father — don’t abandon my son Gilad.”
It is expected that negotiations will continue.
A statement released late Monday by the Prime Minister’s Office quoted the two Israelis, Diskin and special envoy Ofer Dekel, negotiating the release with Egyptian mediators as saying that “it became clear during the discussions that Hamas had hardened its position, reneged on understandings that had been formulated over the past year and raised extreme demands despite the generous proposals that had been raised in this round in order to advance and exhaust the negotiations and bring about the soldier’s release.”
Israel reportedly was ready to release all 400 detainees on the Hamas list, but on the condition they leave the region.