Lawyers: We'll meet anyone to help free Schalit

Lawyers working for Gilad's family say they're counting on European pressure to help release him.

schalit 224  (photo credit: Channel 10 [file])
schalit 224
(photo credit: Channel 10 [file])
The two French lawyers working on behalf of the Schalit family to help further negotiations over the release of Gilad Schalit say they will meet with anyone who expresses goodwill and is able to advance the issue. At a press conference held in Tel Aviv Wednesday with Gilad's father Noam Schalit, Emmanuel Altit and Stephane Zerbib said that they did not rule out meeting with Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal as well. The Schalit family holds French citizenships, and the lawyers hope to use this fact to rally European public opinion and increase pressure on Hamas. "We have worked to raise awareness of the case among European politicians and we've also turned to the media to [do this]. Schalit is an IDF soldier but he is also a French citizen so we expect the French government to be involved in his release." The two said they have also been pushing the issue to the European media and had managed to obtain the signatures of 140 European politicians on a petition empathizing with Schalit. The two said they have been in contact with "all relevant officials in the organization" and have been formally invited to the Gaza Strip by Hamas. Noam Schalit stressed that their activity was not intended to substitute Israeli negotiations, but to help Hamas understand that it had additional interests in freeing Gilad. He added that Israeli authorities had so far been uncooperative. "I have been told that my attorneys' involvement could hinder negotiations to free Gilad, but there is a momentum here that we cannot miss," he said. The two attorneys said the were still waiting for authorization to enter the Gaza Strip, which they hoped to receive by Thursday. They added that they understood the problematic security situation, and would not try to enter without Israeli approval. "We are responsible people with families, and we won't take chances," they said.