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With the family of Gilad Schalit stepping up pressure on decision-makers just
before the fourth anniversary of his capture by Gaza-based gunmen, a
multi-partisan group of powerful MKs established on Monday a Knesset lobby for
the soldier’s release.
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Schalit’s parents, Noam and Aviva, joined the
lobby’s founders – MKs Miri Regev (Likud), Eitan Cabel (Labor) and Shaul Mofaz
(Kadima) – for the lobby’s kickoff event in the Knesset.
“We cannot allow
this to become a second Ron Arad case,” said Regev, referring to the air
navigator missing since 1986. “We will provide support for the prime
making difficult decisions.”
Regev insisted that the lobby was not
designed to take an oppositional stance toward the prime minister, but
reinforce his ability to take steps to secure Schalit’s release.
that one main goal of establishing the Knesset lobby was to ensure that
topic of Schalit’s captivity remained on the public – and political –
Speaking to The Jerusalem Post
she added that she had maintained
a close relationship with the Schalit family ever since Gilad was
during the time she served as IDF Spokeswoman, and that she believed the
co-founding by three MKs with extensive defense experience would add to
ability to push the issue forward.
“We cannot allow ourselves to arrive
at the situation in which this becomes a second Ron Arad affair,” said
referring to the fact that the navigator’s whereabouts have been unknown
“The government of Israel must act at any price,” Cabel
“Where is our son Gilad?,” Noam Schalit asked the gathered MKs.
“The Knesset is the legislative authority, but it is also the authority
provides oversight for the government, and that is part of the mandate
Knesset and of members of Knesset regarding the government.
governments of Israel have failed to bring Gilad home. This is a poor
on a country that failed to fulfill its obligations to a soldier that it
the front lines.”
“The country that knows how to send airplanes thousands
of kilometers away to rescue hostages also should know how to return one
soldier home,” the elder Schalit continued. “We have already paid the
Gilad has also paid – and the time has come for the country to pay
before it is
too late. We are going to march and we will sit outside of the prime
house, and we will only go back home again together with Gilad!” Among
attended the lobby’s first meeting were Hen Arad, brother of Ron Arad;
Goldwasser, mother of captured IDF soldier Ehud Goldwasser, whose body
returned to Israel by Hizbullah along with that of fellow-captured
Regev; and two men who were taken prisoner during the 1973 Yom Kippur
Just a short time before Noam Schalit lambasted the government for
failing to bring home his son, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu argued
country is “constantly looking for new ways to bring Gilad home safe and
Israel, Netanyahu said, had accepted a new offer made by the
German mediator working to secure the captive IDF soldier’s release, but
ball was now in a reluctant Hamas’s court.
“The German mediator has
presented an offer for the prisoner exchange deal, but Hamas has yet to
Netanyahu told MKs during a meeting of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and
Committee. “While it’s not a simple offer, we have agreed to
Netanyahu added that he had agreed to the release of 1,000 prisoners
in exchange for Schalit. Four hundred and fifty were considered Hamas
while the remaining 550 were considered to be a gesture to Egypt.
can’t release dangerous terrorists to places in the West Bank, where
kill Israeli citizens,” Netanyahu warned the committee, adding that the
experience of past prisoner releases proved that released terrorists can
“My responsibility is both to return Gilad to his family and
to his nation, but also to take into consideration the security of all
Israel’s citizens,” said Netanyahu, adding that he had spoken with the
family regarding the latest offer.
“I told the Schalit family that I
understand them and identify with their terrible suffering and their
expectations.”Tzvi Schalit, Gilad’s grandfather
, is scheduled to meet
with the prime minister on Tuesday morning.Sign your name to The Jerusalem Post
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