PM: There may not be a [Schalit] deal

There may not be a [Sch

schalit banner 248.88 (photo credit: )
schalit banner 248.88
(photo credit: )
The involvement of a released Palestinian prisoner in last week's murder of Rabbi Meir Avshalom Chai in Samaria underlines the dilemma Israel faces in concluding a deal to release kidnapped soldier Gilad Schalit, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said on Sunday morning. Speaking to Likud ministers before the weekly cabinet meeting, Netanyahu said the problem of releasing murderers back to the territories where they could return to terrorism was a central consideration in the decision regarding Schalit. There is no deal to free Schalit at the moment, Netanyahu said, just a week after he was holding intensive talks with his senior ministers about just that possibility. And, he added, "it's not clear whether or not there will be a deal. If it comes to a vote, I'll bring it to the cabinet, but we're not there yet, and I don't know if we ever will be." The prime minister said one of the terrorists who was killed by the IDF in Nablus on Friday evening and was involved in Chai's murder was released from an Israeli jail. "That is precisely what we are taking into consideration when considering the Schalit deal," he said. "The security problems for our citizens, especially in Judea and Samaria. This is a cardinal consideration in the negotiations over Gilad Schalit. We want to redeem captives, but in parallel we also need to reduce to a minimum risks to our citizens." Another one of the terrorists involved in the murder reportedly received a limited pardon from Israel and had signed a commitment not to return to terrorism. The prime minister said there were certain principles from which Israel would not retreat, and "we will not agree to leave our citizens exposed to terrorism." The proposed Schalit deal is expected to be high on the agenda of talks that Netanyahu will hold in Egypt on Tuesday with President Hosni Mubarak, a visit the prime minister announced at Sunday's cabinet meeting. The one-day visit, Netanyahu's third to Egypt since taking office on March 31, comes a little over a week after a visit to Jerusalem by Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman. The two leaders are also expected to discuss the stalled diplomatic process with the Palestinians and Egypt's construction of an underground wall meant to stop the smuggling via tunnels from Sinai into Gaza. "Obviously the relationship between Jerusalem and Cairo, the peace between Israel and Egypt, is a foundation of regional stability," said Netanyahu's spokesman Mark Regev. "And we are interested in cultivating direct dialogue with the Egyptian leadership." Netanyahu will be accompanied on the trip by Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, who is thought to have developed a good rapport with the Egyptian leadership.