Ministers back Olmert call to link Schalit to ceasefire deal

Following a weekend of speculation over a possible imminent prisoner swap for kidnapped IDF soldier Cpl. Gilad Schalit, cabinet ministers expressed their willingness on Sunday to "pay the price" to bring the soldier back to Israel. "I believe that this is a chance to bring Schalit home, we must not make any agreement without including Schalit," Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit said prior to the weekly cabinet meeting. "I am not opposed to the [deal] being done in two stages, so long as Gilad is released from Hamas hands in the first phase and passed to the Egyptians," he continued, adding that he was "willing to pay the price to bring him home." "We must not make progress with the ceasefire without Gilad Schalit," Industry, Trade, Labor Minister Eli Yishai said. "We will need to pay a heavy price for his return." On Saturday evening, the Prime Minister's Office released a statement declaring that Israel would refuse any ceasefire agreement which did not include Schalit.