Goldwasser family dismiss reports swap near

Father of captured soldier: There's nothing behind Lebanese report of "substantial progress in talks."

regev goldwasser 224  (photo credit: Channel 10)
regev goldwasser 224
(photo credit: Channel 10)
Shlomo Goldwasser, father of captured IDF soldier Ehud Goldwasser, dismissed a report in the Lebanese daily As-Safir on Monday of "substantial progress" in negotiations to free his son and Eldad Regev, being held by Hizbullah, as meaningless. "There is nothing behind it," he told The Jerusalem Post. "If there were, we would have information from much better sources." The paper had speculated that Israel wishes to convey "positive signals" and a message of calm, in light of the five-day nationwide emergency drill "Turning Point 2," currently taking place. It quoted Palestinian sources as saying that the drill has spurred substantial progress in the negotiations between Israel and Hizbullah, facilitated by German mediators representing UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. This move by Israel stands in opposition to the "foot-dragging" that has characterized its conduct in the negotiations so far, the sources said, adding that the key to successful completion of the deal ultimately lay in the hands of Hizbullah chief Hassan Nasrallah. "The possibility of a breakthrough depends on the negotiations that Nasrallah is personally holding from the Lebanese side, as he has been handling this issue for many years," they said. As-Safir also predicted that the progress would give momentum to talks with Hamas to free captured IDF soldier Cpl. Gilad Schalit. Goldwasser attacked the government for not doing enough to save his son and Regev, as well as Schalit, who was kidnapped by Hamas in June of 2006 on Israel's southern border. "I do not think it is the first priority of our government," said Goldwasser, and warned that its failure to bring the three men home has had a negative impact on teens who have yet to be drafted into the army. "We are losing these youngsters," he said. Goldwasser said he knew this from firsthand experience because of the kind of questions he received when he talks in front of young audiences. "Everyone is asking the question: What would happen to us, if we were in this situation?" said Goldwasser. He said he was of the belief that the government should exchange prisoners for Schalit as well as for his son and Regev. Solving the motivational problem of the younger generation by showing that the government stands behind its soldiers is more important than keeping the prisoners, even those who have blood on their hands, Goldwasser said. Officials had not notified his family about any progress toward the release of his son, or Regev, said Goldwasser. Neither he nor the Regev family had received any information regarding the well-being of their sons, since they were kidnapped by Hizbullah on Israel's northern border in July of 2006. "We know exactly what we knew on the first day," he said.