Livni garners diplomatic aid for Shalit

Soldier holds French citizenship; French gov't working to secure his release.

livni rice 298.88 (photo credit: Associated Press [file])
livni rice 298.88
(photo credit: Associated Press [file])
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni met 60 ambassadors Monday, asking them to use their leverage to put pressure on the Palestinian Authority to secure the release of kidnapped soldier Cpl. Gilad Shalit. Livni described the upcoming hours as "critical" to the kidnapping episode. US Ambassador to Israel, Richard Jones, said that the Hamas-led Palestinian government was not capable of ruling its people and that the international community needed to consider how to deal with "a movement that has no control over its house." British Ambassador to Israel, Simon MacDonald, said that the events in Gaza were "a serious escalation" and the main task of Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas was to secure the release of the kidnapped soldier. Meanwhile, diplomats reported that since Shalit held French citizenship the French government was working to secure his release. Yael Avram, spokeswoman for the French Embassy in Tel Aviv, said diplomats were "fully active in order to liberate the soldier." She said French officials in Paris were in touch with Palestinian officials, and the French ambassador planned to meet relatives of the soldier later in the day. Palestinian lawmaker Saeb Erekat called on Israel to avoid a military response. "We urge Prime Minister Olmert to refrain from any military action at a time when President Abbas is exerting maximum efforts in order to acquire the release of the soldier, alive and unharmed," Erekat said. Palestinian prisoners being held in Israeli jails called on the kidnappers not to release Shalit unless something was given in return. Earlier on Monday, The Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) denied a report claiming that the group was holding the kidnapped soldier. The European Union called on Monday for the release of the kidnapped IDF soldier, Cpl. Gilad Shalit. "Gilad Shalit should be released immediately. The taking of any hostage is deplorable, but I view this with particular dismay, since it is the first action of its kind in 12 years. I urge the Palestinian government to uphold the ceasefire and to renounce violence. Actions that we have seen in recent weeks, including rocket attacks, can only lead to further tragedy. We hope too that the Israelis will respond to the latest events with restraint, paying particular attention to the need to avoid civilian casualties," EU Commissioner for External Relations, Benita Ferrero-Waldner said on Monday afternoon.