Noam Schalit 311 R.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The parents of kidnapped soldier Gilad Schalit asked that the Quartet demand the release of their son from captivity in Gaza, when it met later in the day in Washington.
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“One of the more pressing unsolved issues between Israel and the Palestinians is that of our son, who was kidnapped by Palestinians and held by Hamas for over five years,” Noam and Aviva wrote in a letter to the Quartet’s envoy Tony Blair.
Although the letter was written in English, only a Hebrew version was released to the media.
“Holding our son for the purposes of blackmail and bargaining – without any basic human rights and not allowing [him] any contact with the International Committee of the Red Cross – is clearly a war crime under article 8 of the Rome Statute,” they wrote.
The Quartet was meeting Monday in Washington to discuss the future of the Middle East peace process and the Palestinian leadership’s intention to ask the UN in September to recognize a Palestinian state on the pre-1967 lines.
Each time the Quartet meets it should demand that this “war crime” be immediately stopped – most certainly before any change in the status of the Palestinian Authority as the sovereign entity in the Palestinian territories including Gaza, where Gilad is held, Noam and Aviva wrote.
Their son, they said, should be released without conditions. But they added, that if not, it should happen according to the terms of a previous deal that was worked out in 2009 by a German mediator by which Gilad would be freed in exchange for the release of 1,000 Palestinian security prisoners. The deal was never finalized, and each side blames the other for its failure.
Earlier in the day Noam and Aviva lobbied the Shas and Kadima factions, in hopes that they would sign onto a petition in support of the deal. They were joined by Noam’s father, Tzvi.
Prior to the meeting, Shas patty leader Eli Yishai said to them, “I hope he will be free soon. Not enough has been done by this government and the previous one. The proof of that is that he is not here. He is held by cruel people who do not respect life. We will do everything possible to end this episode. When there is a final agreement, we will bring it to the rabbis for approval.”
A party spokesman said that in the meeting Yishai promised the parents they would support any deal for Gilad’s release brought to the cabinet for approval by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
The party did not sign the Schalit family’s petition because it asked
parliamentarians to support the list of prisoners set out by the German
mediator more than two years ago.
The party felt that such a request hampered the Prime Minister’s ability to finalize a deal, the party spokesman said.
Noam and Aviva also spoke before the Kadima faction, but did not receive
the same show of support. Just last week, party leader MK Tzipi Livni
refused to sign the family’s petition.
Her rival within the faction, MK Shaul Mofaz (Kadima) is one of three
MKs who are sponsoring the document. The other two sponsors are MKs Miri
Regev (Likud) and MK Eitan Cable (Labor). MK Meir Sheetrit (Kadima) has
also signed the petition.
Gilad, 24, has been held in Gaza by Hamas since he was kidnapped in June 2006, while patrolling the border with his unit.