Ehud Barak 311.
(photo credit: Ariel Tarmoni/Defense Ministry)
Defense Minister Ehud Barak addressed the prisoner exchange deal for the release of Gilad Schalit which was approved by the cabinet overnight Sunday, saying "today we took a great stride forward on the path to bringing Gilad back."
RELATED:MKs, ministers split over Schalit prisoner swap dealNoam Schalit thanks Netanyahu for signing deal
Barak suggested that "restraint" be exercised until Schalit was safely back in Israel.
He praised the negotiating team that came to an agreement with Hamas and praised Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for exhibiting "leadership, bravery and responsibility," that eventually led to the signing of the deal and its approval in the cabinet.
Opposition leader Tzipi Livni said overnight Sunday, "I respect the government's decision to bring about the release of IDF soldier Gilad Schalit."
Livni sent her blessings to the Schalit family and "all of Israel which sees Gilad as a family member."
The opposition leader expressed solidarity with the families of terror victims "who are also going through difficult times."
Livni stated that the release of terrorists from Israeli jails was a
move which would have "complicated security consequences," adding that a
discussion of future such events should be discussed following
National Infrastructures Minister Uzi Landau (Israel Beiteinu), one of
only three ministers who voted against the deal to free Schalit, said overnight Sunday that releasing terrorists
gives an incentive for further kidnapping of soldiers.
"This is a big victory for terror and a strike against Israel's
deterrence ability and security," Landau told reporters following the cabinet
Landau added that despite his opposition to the deal, following its
approval by the government, ministers should do everything in their
power to implement its completion and speed Schalit's return home.
The Israel Beiteinu minister added that he would like to see "a fundamental change in Israel's approach to kidnappings."
Shas Chairman Eli Yishai said that the cabinet decision to approve the prisoner exchange was "painful and difficult".
He added that it "had to be done" and that "it was preferable to do it today."
Home Front Security Minister Matan Vilna'i told Israeli Radio, "We are proving, for who knows how many times, that each of our soldiers is a world unto himself, and we will make a supreme effort to bring him home. The deal is a tough one, but it was the best possible to reach in these conditions."
He said the terms thrashed out since secret negotiations got serious about three months ago did not give Hamas everything they asked for.
"We got the maximum we were able. And we are again proving that we will make supreme efforts to bring our soldiers home. It's the case for every family living in Israel," Vilna'i said.