On Gaza visit, German FM calls on Hamas to free Schalit

Westerwelle says his country sees speedy return of soldier to his family as humane step; comments come a day after meetings with Noam Schalit, Lieberman, Peres in J'lem.

November 8, 2010 13:33
1 minute read.
Westerwelle meets Noam Schalit in Jerusalem, Sun.

Westerwelle German FM Noam Schalit Jerusalem 311 AP. (photo credit: Associated Press)

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle on Monday called on Hamas to free captured IDF soldier Gilad Schalit, during a visit to the Gaza Strip.

He urged the terror group to "finally free this young man, after so many years in captivity."

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Westerwelle stressed that Germany views the speedy return of Schalit to his family as the humane step.

His comments came a day after a meeting with the soldier's father, Noam Schalit, as well as President Shimon Peres, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, and Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat in Jerusalem.

During a press conference after their Sunday meeting, Lieberman said that the biggest threat to the Middle East is Iran.

"Not only Iran with its nuclear problem, but Iran through its proxies in its terrorist activity in all our regions. We see Iranian activities through proxies in Lebanon through Hizbullah, in the Palestinian Authority through Hamas, their deep involvement in Iraq, in Yemen, in Somalia and, of course, this threat may be the biggest threat that we are facing as a Western society, as a free society in the modern world," Lieberman told his German counterpart.

He also said that while Israel has a "political dispute" with the Palestinians, it also has "very good cooperation with the Palestinians on the security level and on economy."

Westerwelle referred to Schalit, saying that Germany has an "abolultely clear position" that the soldier be "released very soon."

"We think that our Israeli friends know that they can count on us. And I do not want to comment any further because it is very important that we help the family, that we help this poor young man and that we see him as soon as possible, safe and healthy, back in the arms of his family," the German foreign minister said.

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