Barak: Schalit talks must be in secret

Defense minister stresses great efforts being made on issue, says truce has permitted talks in earnest.

September 2, 2008 12:41
1 minute read.
Barak: Schalit talks must be in secret

barak mubarak shake 224.88. (photo credit: AP [file])

Although Israel is now marking Gilad Schalit's 800th day in Hamas captivity, Defense Minister Ehud Barak asserted Tuesday that the country was doing its utmost to secure his release, adding, however, that negotiations were best conducted in secret. "There isn't a day that passes that I don't think about Gilad Schalit and that we don't act on the matter," Barak said during a tour of the Shivta army base in the Negev. "Last week I was in Alexandria. I met with Egyptian President [Hosni] Mubarak, [Egyptian Intelligence Chief] Omer Suleiman, and the Egyptian leadership," the defense minister said. "The matter of Gilad Schalit was the central issue. The ministerial committee is meeting in order to discuss the names [of Palestinian prisoners slated for release]. We want to succeed." Barak warned, however, that public disclosure of details regarding negotiations with Hamas would be counterproductive. "We must give a strong hug and public support to the family, but it is impossible to reveal details to the public when negotiations are being renewed," he said. "We must conduct [talks] under a blackout, in order to maximize the chances of success." The defense minister pointed to the ceasefire as a step in the right direction, saying that aside from ensuring the start of the school year in Gaza periphery communities, it "allowed the matter of Schalit to be discussed in earnest." On another topic, Barak also commented on the state of the army two years after the Second Lebanon War, saying that the IDF was working hard to employ the lessons learned in the last conflict. He stressed that "the effort is being managed with impressive motivation by the IDF chief of General Staff [Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi]." "My support is something that is essential for a victorious army," he said.

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