Shimon Peres 311.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Inasmuch as he was proud to have a role in the release and homecoming of Gilad
Schalit, President Shimon Peres signed each commutation with a heavy
The president’s office, in coordination with the IDF Spokesman’s
Office, announced at 10:40 a.m. on Tuesday that the commutations had gone into
effect a short time earlier.
Each of the files transferred to the defense
and justice ministers were accompanied by a personal note stating that while he
had received their recommendations following the decision by the government, he
had done so with grave consideration and an aching heart.
“The voice of
the terror victims and the deep grief of their families sears all of our
hearts,” he wrote.
Peres made it clear that his decision to exercise his
authority and sign the documents in no way pardons or forgives the murders and
criminals whose freedom they have enabled.
“I do not forgive and
forget. The sense of loss will never be erased; the heroism of the
victims will not be forgotten.”
But amid the national euphoria and tears
of joy shed at the return of a native son, Peres did not forget to thank the
German mediator for all that he had done to facilitate the release of
Peres met on Tuesday with the mediator and with senior members
of the German government and German intelligence to express his thanks, and that
of the nation, to Chancellor Angela Merkel for helping to advance Schalit’s
The meeting took place as Schalit was on his way to
Noting the fact, Peres said: “All of Israel is emotionally
holding its breath, because Gilad Schalit is the son of all of us.”
negotiations were not easy in the complex realities of the situation, Peres
said, as he praised the mediator for his professionalism, wisdom and
Peres reiterated his deep gratitude for the support Merkel
had given to the negotiating process.
Her attitude was proof of the depth
of friendship and the strategic alliance between Israel and Germany said
Slightly embarrassed but moved by the compliments, the German
mediator said he was flattered and honored to have the opportunity to meet with
Peres. Both sides made difficult decisions, he said, and he was glad that in the
final analysis both had risen to the enormity of the challenge. He said
negotiations had been often frustrating, but it gave him great pleasure to see
Schalit come home at last.