Knesset to hold special plenary session on Schalit

Session will coincide with fifth anniversary of soldier's kidnapping; Knesset Interior Committee will also consider harsher treatment of Hamas prisoners.

By JERUSALEM POST STAFF
June 21, 2011 02:08
2 minute read.
Captured soldier Gilad Schalit in video

Gilad Schalit in video 311 (R). (photo credit: Reuters)

The Knesset plans to hold a special session plenary session Wednesday to mark the fifth anniversary of Gilad Schalit’s kidnapping, according to the office of Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin.

Separately, the Knesset Interior Committee will debate harshening the conditions of Hamas prisoners in Israeli jails, Rivlin’s spokesman said, although he did not know the date of that debate. The issue of Hamas prisoners was also raised in the Likud faction committee on Monday.

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Last week, when the President of the European Parliament, Jerzy Buzek, visited Rivlin in Jerusalem, the two men agreed that the European Parliament would hold an exhibit this summer honoring the story Gilad wrote when he was young, called When the Shark and the Fish First Met.

The Schalit family published the story as a children’s book after Gilad was kidnapped by Hamas while he patrolled the Gaza border with his IDF unit on June 25, 2006.

Yoel Schalit told Army Radio Monday that his brother’s release was in the hands of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

“To think about what is happening to him now – it’s inconceivable to me,” he said.

“I can only imagine it in my worst dreams.”

Yoel Schalit said in the interview, “We’ve been sitting in the protest tent outside the prime minister’s home for nearly a year now, and the truth is that from the beginning we knew this would be long process.

“We passed four seasons there, but unfortunately it’s not up to us. It depends on the government and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu,” Schalit added. “Every day I hope that our suffering – and Gilad’s suffering – ends already.”

Deputy Head of Hamas’ political bureau, Moussa Abu Mazrouk, dismissed claims that progress had been made on a possible prisoner swap for Schalit.

The leading Hamas official, speaking from Damascus, added that the Egyptian government has taken an active role in formulating a prisonerswap deal following the failure of a German mediator, and that a deal would include an exchange of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in Israel for Schalit.

On Sunday, Channel 2 reported that France and Germany are offering Hamas extra incentives, in addition to the release of approximately 1,000 Palestinian prisoners, in exchange for Schalit.

These incentives include easing restrictions on Gaza’s border crossings, as well as de facto recognition of the Hamas government in Gaza, which would allow for European investment in the territory.

France and Germany are working with Egypt on the deal, according to the report.


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