Schalit's father: US holding up deal

Noam Schalit says Washington concerned prisoner swap would weaken Abbas.

By HAVIV RETTIG GUR
February 18, 2010 21:51
1 minute read.
noam schalit sad but hung

noam schalit sad but hung. (photo credit: )

 
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The American administration is opposed to a prisoner exchange deal that would free IDF corporal Gilad Schalit, Gilad’s father Noam Schalit charged on Thursday.

“Unfortunately, we have heard from the US administration,” he said, “that it has expressed dissatisfaction with the prisoner deal” reached in recent months with Hamas that would exchange Schalit for some 1,000 Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails. According to Schalit, the Obama administration is concerned such a deal would weaken PA President Mahmoud Abbas“and destabilize the West Bank.”

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Speaking to American Jewish leaders who are in Israel this week for a meeting of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Schalit objected to the Ellison-McDermott letter, a document signed by 54 Democratic members of Congress urging an easing of Israel's blockade of the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, which he said “does not mention Gilad’s being held hostage” in the Strip.

“Israel does not intend to ease the blockade until the prisoner exchange will be implemented,” Schalit said at Tel Aviv's Beit Hatefeutsoth. “I am appealing to you, dear leaders of the US [Jewish] community, to bring it up in all your dialogue with the US administration, congressmen, representatives from all over the world. Do not let up until our son regains the freedom taken from him four years ago.”

Conference of Presidents executive vice chairman Malcolm Hoenlein told Schalit that the Congressional letter “does not represent the opinion of Congress. This was a manipulation and many have retracted their support. It disregarded all realities. I can assure you, it is a distortion, that 90% of Congress stands with Israel. This was not the sentiment of Congress nor of the American people, who encourage us to speak out on behalf of your son.”

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