'Egypt in strong position with Hamas after Schalit deal'

Top Defense Ministry official Amos Gilad tells Army Radio timing of prisoner exchange deal was correct; Amidror: No delays expected in deal.

October 16, 2011 10:05
2 minute read.
Gilad Schalit in uniform, before he was captured

Gilad Schalit in uniform 311. (photo credit: Reuters)


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Defense Ministry Diplomatic-Security Bureau head Amos Gilad said Sunday that Egypt is in a very strong position with Hamas following the secure of a prisoner exchange deal to release Gilad Schalit.

In an interview with Army Radio, Gilad talked about the timing of the deal and said that it is hard to know what will happen next in the Middle East and that a decision had to be made.

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Sbarro terror victims petition High Court on Schalit deal
Timeline of the proposed prisoner exchange

He stressed the fact the state and the IDF have a responsibility to bring soldiers back home under any circumstances.

"We had a mission, and that was to return to him home," the top defense official said.

Gilad said he was sure that the deal would go through without any problems, but expressed the same concerns as the captured soldier's father Noam. "I will only be convinced that Gilad has been returned when we see him walking down the steps of his home," he said. 

He explained during the interview that only formalities remain and the swap was expected for Tuesday.

When asked if the same amount of prisoners [1,027] would be released by the US if one of their soldiers was kidnapped, Gilad explained that the fact that Israel has conscription means that the IDF if is obligated to bring its soldiers back.

"We have no choice, we need to make sure our soldiers return home," the defense official said. "We don't need to look at what other countries are doing."

Also Sunday morning, National Security Council chief Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror estimated that there was no reason that the deal to release Schalit would encounter any delays.

Amidror said during an interview with Army Radio that the prisoner exchange deal would only be canceled "if the  High Court intervenes or someone in Gaza goes crazy."

Amos Gilad and Amidror's comments came as the legal department in the President's Bureau began dealing with pardons for Palestinian prisoners who are to be released in exchange for Schalit. If all goes according to plan, Schalit will be returned to Israel on Tuesday after more than five years in captivity.

An announcement issued by the President's spokeswoman on Saturday night stated that attorney Emi Palmor, the head of the Pardons Division in the Justice Ministry was expected to deliver all the files pertaining to the prisoners listed for release soon after the conclusion of the Sabbath. According to the statement the files included recommendations by Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman.

Greer Fay Cashman and Joanna Paraszczuk contributed to this report

Click for full JPost coverage of Gilad Schalit

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