Shin Bet, Mossad, IDF heads all back Schalit deal

Netanyahu: Schalit will be on his way home in the coming days; ministers discuss approval of mediated deal for release of kidnapped soldierfrom captivity in Gaza; prisoner-swap deal was reached with Hamas last week.

October 11, 2011 22:56
1 minute read.
Gilad Schalit

Gilad Schalit 311. (photo credit: REUTERS)

The heads of the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), the Mossad and the IDF all expressed support for a prisoner exchange deal to free captured IDF soldier Gilad Schalit, during a cabinet meeting late Tuesday night.

Before the cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu vowed to bring Schalit home within the coming days.

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Timeline: Five years in Hamas captivity

Speaking at a press conference ahead of an urgent cabinet meeting over the prisoner-swap deal that free Schalit - which Hamas has approved - Netanyahu said he would stand true to his promise to bring Schalit home to his parents and grandparents.

Netanyahu presented the final prisoner-swap deal to the cabinet late Tuesday night, following rigorous negotiations with the Palestinians.

"There was great tension between bringing Schalit home...and maintaining the security of Israeli citizens," Netanyahu said of the talks.

The prime minister convened a special cabinet meeting Tuesday evening to approve the Egyptian-mediated deal.

Netanyahu was quoted on TV news as saying "the window has been opened for an historic deal" to free Schalit, captured by Hamas terrorists tunneling under a border fence in June 2006.

In Gaza, a source involved in Egyptian-mediated talks between Israel and the Islamist group told Reuters agreement had been reached for a swap to take place possibly as soon as in the coming days.

The deal was signed by both sides in Cairo last Thursday.

Government sources said that in recent days there have been a number of high level meetings in the Prime Minister's Office dealing with Schalit. The Egyptian press has also reported in recent days visits by Israeli officials to Cairo.

The announcement came after last week, Palestinian and Egyptian sources denied an Al Hayat report which said that German mediator Gerhard Konrad was in Cairo for talks over a prisoner-swap deal.

Yaakov Katz and Reuters contributed to this report.

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