UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon 311 R.
(photo credit: REUTERS/ Joshua Lott)
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Tuesday that he expected the
prisoner exchange deal which saw the release of Gilad Schalit to boost prospects
for the wider peace process.
Live blog: Schalit returns to Israel
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“With this release, it will have a
far-reaching positive impact to the stalled Middle East peace process,” Ban told
Reuters at the end of a three-day trip to Switzerland.
“I am very
encouraged by the prisoner exchange today after many many years of negotiation,”
Ban said. “The United Nations has been calling for [an end to] the unacceptable
detention of Gilad Schalit and also the release of all Palestinians whose human
rights have been abused all the time.”
British Prime Minister David
Cameron also welcomed Schalit’s release and said that the people of Britain
share the joy felt by the Schalit family.
“I know that people across
Britain will share in the joy and relief felt by Gilad Schalit and his family
today,” he said. “I can only imagine the heartache of the last five years, and I
am full of admiration for the courage and fortitude which Schalit and his family
have shown through his long cruel and unjustified captivity.”
congratulated Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and everyone involved for
bringing him home safely.
“I hope this prisoner exchange will bring peace
a step closer,” Cameron added.
“Britain will continue to stand by Israel
in defeating terrorism. We remain strongly committed to the cause of peace in
the Middle East – with Israel and a Palestinian state living side-by-side in
security. We will continue to work for direct negotiations to achieve that end,”
French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Tuesday hailed the release
of Gilad Schalit as “a huge relief for France,” Israel Radio
Sarkozy, who campaigned for the IDF soldier’s release, said
that Schalit would be invited to travel to France “soon.”