Gilad Schalit in video 311 (R).
(photo credit: Reuters)
Activists working to bring home kidnapped soldier Gilad Schalit will consider
changing their tactics and adopting a more political approach if they do not see
results by the end of the Pessah holiday, Schalit campaign chairman Shimshon
Liebman said Wednesday.
Members of Schalit’s family and officials leading
the campaign will hold a key meeting immediately after the holiday in which
Liebman will recommend changing their strategy, which he believes has not been
tough enough. He said the current approach had been exhausted and had failed to
convince Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to take action.
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“It seems we
require a major change to the campaign,” Liebman wrote. “The struggle cannot be
based solely on displays of solidarity. We have the sympathy already. We
need to consider the situation now and ask what might persuade the prime
minister to make a decision. We’ll need to operate on a more political track,
speak a more political language and address political issues. In our country,
doing what we have done so far just isn’t enough.”
Liebman declined to elaborate when asked what he meant by
using political tactics, but said that pending the approval of the family, the
campaign’s language should be changed to one that politicians understand
better. Officials close to the campaign have suggested blocking roads,
staging strikes, and even forming a new political party.
“We have no
political agenda other than getting Gilad Schalit freed, but that does not
preclude us from taking action,” Liebman said.
The changes are being
considered following Netanyahu’s decision to appoint senior Mossad official
David Meidan as his new point man on the Schalit issue, and amid confusion over
who would mediate between Israel and Hamas.
The Egyptian daily Al-Ahram
reported on Tuesday that a new European mediator had been appointed to replace
Gerhard Conrad of Germany.
Hamas official Musa Abu Marzouk appeared to
confirm the change in interviews with Arabic networks, but Netanyahu released a
statement denying that Conrad had been replaced.
“Israel is serious about
bringing Gilad Schalit home,” Netanyahu said. “We will continue to work on the
basis of the proposal that Gerhard Conrad constructed with Hamas.”
has accused Conrad of taking Israel’s side too often in negotiations, and
Marzouk hinted that a European country had offered to take over the
He declined to say whether that country was France, where
Schalit has citizenship.
The kidnapped soldier’s father, Noam, said the
French had volunteered in the past to upgrade their role in the effort to bring
about Schalit’s release, and downplayed the statements by Hamas as “not
Liebman rejected an idea by Vice Premier Silvan Shalom that
instead of accepting Hamas’s demand to release more than 1,000 prisoners,
including hundreds with blood on their hands, Netanyahu instead offer to release
2,000 prisoners, but none with blood on their hands.
Shalom said that if
a list of such prisoners were to be published, their families would put so much
pressure on Hamas that it would be compelled to accept the deal and release
“We presented that idea in Gilad’s first year in captivity,”
Liebman said. “After five years, I doubt it would work. Hamas hasn’t changed the
deal in five years. The only way to bring Gilad home is to accept the