Peres completes commutations, thanks German mediator

President signs each commutation with a heavy heart, says they do not pardon crimes of murderers; “I do not forgive and forget."

Shimon Peres 311 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Shimon Peres 311
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Inasmuch as he was proud to have a role in the release and homecoming of Gilad Schalit, President Shimon Peres signed each commutation with a heavy heart.
The president’s office, in coordination with the IDF Spokesman’s Office, announced at 10:40 a.m. on Tuesday that the commutations had gone into effect a short time earlier.
Each of the files transferred to the defense and justice ministers were accompanied by a personal note stating that while he had received their recommendations following the decision by the government, he had done so with grave consideration and an aching heart.
“The voice of the terror victims and the deep grief of their families sears all of our hearts,” he wrote.
Peres made it clear that his decision to exercise his authority and sign the documents in no way pardons or forgives the murders and criminals whose freedom they have enabled.
“I do not forgive and forget. The sense of loss will never be erased; the heroism of the victims will not be forgotten.”
But amid the national euphoria and tears of joy shed at the return of a native son, Peres did not forget to thank the German mediator for all that he had done to facilitate the release of Schalit.
Peres met on Tuesday with the mediator and with senior members of the German government and German intelligence to express his thanks, and that of the nation, to Chancellor Angela Merkel for helping to advance Schalit’s return home.
The meeting took place as Schalit was on his way to Israel.
Noting the fact, Peres said: “All of Israel is emotionally holding its breath, because Gilad Schalit is the son of all of us.”
The negotiations were not easy in the complex realities of the situation, Peres said, as he praised the mediator for his professionalism, wisdom and commitment.
Peres reiterated his deep gratitude for the support Merkel had given to the negotiating process.
Her attitude was proof of the depth of friendship and the strategic alliance between Israel and Germany said Peres.
Slightly embarrassed but moved by the compliments, the German mediator said he was flattered and honored to have the opportunity to meet with Peres. Both sides made difficult decisions, he said, and he was glad that in the final analysis both had risen to the enormity of the challenge. He said negotiations had been often frustrating, but it gave him great pleasure to see Schalit come home at last.
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