Peretz: Info on captured soldiers must remain confidential

Comments come in response to remarks by European Union Ambassador to Israel that Israel did not have sufficient proof soldiers still alive.

peretz profile walking g (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
peretz profile walking g
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Defense Minister Amir Peretz told Army Radio on Wednesday that all the information that Israel had on the welfare of kidnapped IDF would be handed over to their families alone. "The information must remain confidential," he said, adding, "Negotiations are not conducted in the media." Peretz's comments came in response to remarks by European Union Ambassador to Israel Ramiro Cibrian-Uzal, who told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday that Israel did not have sufficient proof that the two soldiers were still alive. Cibrian-Uzal said Israel knows much more about the fate of Gilad Shalit, whom Hamas kidnapped on the Gaza border at the end of June, than it does about Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev. "My understanding is that Israel has received proof that Shalit is alive and in reasonably good condition. On the basis of this proof, Israel is negotiating the release of Gilad Shalit," Cibrian-Uzal said. "No similar proof has been received with respect to the other two abducted soldiers in Lebanon and therefore there are no negotiations for their eventual release," Cibrian-Uzal said. He added that, "Israel would like to receive proof of their condition before engaging in any negotiations." According to Cibrian-Uzal, the prime minister had no "ideological reservations" about negotiating for their release. But he needs proof that they are alive, "as a prior condition," he said. Cibrian-Uzal spoke a day after Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told high school students that when he stopped the war with Hizbullah, he didn't know if Goldwasser and Regev were alive. It was the first indication by the prime minister that the two might not be alive. On Tuesday night, Olmert backtracked and told reporters in Tel Aviv "we believe they are alive and are making every effort to release them." He said his comments on Monday had been misunderstood, and that he did not mean to imply that they were dead. "I told the students the same thing I said at the time [the end of the war] to their [kidnapped soldiers'] parents," Olmert said. Goldwasser's mother, Miki, told The Jerusalem Post that she believes her son "is alive." "That is why I stay so strong. I know that I need to deliver my strength to him," she said. But comments like the ones Olmert made on Monday were upsetting, she said. "Our prime minister should think before he speaks," Goldwasser said, even though she acknowledged that "no one had received any signs of life" from the two young men. Not even the Red Cross could reach them, she said. "I want to ask everyone to help us" receive a sign that they are alive and secure their release, Goldwasser said. She added that humanitarian actions such as this were the first rule of a free country.