Sarkozy welcomes Gilad Schalit in Paris

Noam Schalit thanks French president for "efforts and commitment" he made to bring about the release of Gilad.

Gilad schalit and Sarkozy 390 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Gilad schalit and Sarkozy 390
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Gilad Schalit, the IDF soldier held in Hamas captivity for five years before being released in October, was welcomed by French President Nicolas Sarkozy to the Elysee Palace in Paris on Wednesday.
Schalit, freed as part of a deal that saw 1,027 Palestinian prisoners released from Israeli jails, is also a French citizen.
This was his first trip abroad since being released.
Schalit’s parents, Aviva and Noam, who last month announced his decision to run for the Knesset as part of the Labor Party, accompanied their son on the trip to France.
While Schalit made no statement to the press, AFP quoted Noam as saying, “We are very pleased to be here at the Elysee Palace and we thank President Nicolas Sarkozy and the team at the Elysee for their efforts and commitment” for the release of Gilad, “we are very moved.”
Sarkozy actively lobbied for Schalit’s release while the soldier was held captive.
The French embassy in Tel Aviv released a statement saying Sarkozy told Schalit he appreciated the “exemplary courage” he exhibited during his intolerable incarceration.
Sarkozy also praised Schalit’s parents for their “determination and courage” when facing their “painful and horrible” ordeal.
Upon his release in October, French Ambassador to Israel Christophe Bigot was one of Schalit’s first visitors at his family’s home in Mitzpe Hila.
Herb Keinon contributed to this report.