Noam Schalit: No breakthrough in talks despite videotape

Noam Schalit We are wor

Noam Schalit, father of kidnapped soldier Gilad Schalit, said Saturday that he is concerned negotiations to free his son may take years. He said that despite the videotape that Hamas gave Israel on Friday in return for the release of 20 female Palestinian prisoners, there was still no breakthrough in talks. "We're not on the brink of a deal," he told reporters in Mitzpe Hila, outside the Schalit family home. On Friday night, he called on the government to continue intensive negotiations until Gilad is home. "Aviva and I and all of the Schalit family thank the negotiating team headed by Hagai Hadas for bringing us an authentic, updated sign of life from Gilad for the first time after more than three years in captivity. We thank the activists and public for their support and expect Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to bring about our son's release," Noam said in a statement to the press several hours after the video clip was aired. Gilad's father went on to stress that after watching the captive soldier in the video clip, the family was worried with his appearance. "On the surface he appears to be well, but he has been suffering almost 1,200 unbearable days and nights in Hamas captivity, paying the full price for the failed conduct and policies of recent years," he said. While the two-minute clip was "an important step," Noam said, the Schalit family expects the intense negotiations to continue until Gilad returns home. "The government and leaders have had plenty of time to look into all of the alternative methods that could bring about Gilad's release," he said. "We await his return home in the very near future," the captive soldier's father concluded. The video was received in return for the release of 20 Palestinian female prisoners. Israel released 19 of them on Friday morning, 18 to the West Bank and one to Gaza. The 20th prisoner will be released Sunday, after it turned out that a prisoner released Wednesday was finishing her sentence anyway and would therefore be released regardless of the deal. Earlier, Shimshon Liebman, head of The Campaign to Free Gilad Schalit, told Channel 2 after watching the video footage that while Gilad seems pale and thin, "the main thing is that he is alive." "The fact that we know this strengthens us in our efforts," Liebman said, adding that "we're glad to see that he can sit, read, that his mind is clear." However, he went on to stress that "There is reason to be worried... He's thin, he's very pale. It's clear that he didn't grow as he should have. It must be clear that we need to act quickly to bring about Gilad's release quickly."