Zvi Regev: Everything now depends on gov't

After meeting between Barak and captured soldiers' families, Zvi Regev says ball now in cabinet's court.

godwasser regev shalit (photo credit: AP [file])
godwasser regev shalit
(photo credit: AP [file])
Following talks Friday between Defense Minister Ehud Barak and families of the captured IDF soldiers, Ehud Goldwasser, Eldad Regev and Gilad Schalit, Eldad's father, Zvi, said that the ball was now in the court of cabinet ministers. "We heard the words of Barak, and in the current situation, everything depends on the decision of the cabinet ministers," Regev told reporters after the meeting at the IDF Central Headquarters in Tel Aviv. "We are at the final stage of a deal with Hizbullah to release the boys, we are now waiting for its completion and its approval by the Israeli government," he continued. Ehud's father-in-law, Omri Avni, who came to the meeting with the Goldwassers, said that Barak let the families pour out their hearts. "We didn't get any new information, but it [the meeting] gave us an opportunity to say things clearly to the defense minister." The Regev and Goldwasser families both said that Barak stressed the defense establishment's commitment to the release of the captured soldiers. Zvi Regev told Army Radio on Friday morning that the captives' families also planned to meet opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu and other lawmakers in order to try and convince them to support a deal with Hizbullah. Regev said that although he had no idea what his son's condition was, "with all the pain, we want our sons home in any case." However, in contrast to the relative satisfaction of the Goldwasser and Regev families, Schalit's father, Noam, was less pleased with the outcome of his family's meeting with the defense minister. "The discussion with Barak did not satisfy me," he told reporters. "We spoke about the Gaza truce and the deal to release Gilad. I don't expect more meetings any time soon," he added. On Wednesday, Bar-Ilan University law professor Ariel Bendor, who is one of the attorneys representing the Schalit family, told The Jerusalem Post that if a Gaza truce agreement goes into full effect without the release of the Gilad, the family will petition the High Court of Justice. Barak told reporters in Paris on Thursday that Israel would be required to make difficult decisions on the Schalit issue. He said that while no one believed the latest Gaza truce would be immediately followed by Schalit's release, it would certainly lead to intensive negotiations. Those negotiations are set to resume on Tuesday when Israeli negotiator Ofer Dekel - who met the Goldwasser and Regev families on Wednesday at the IDF Central Headquarters in Tel Aviv - heads to Cairo for talks with Egyptian Intelligence chief Omar Suleiman on the Schalit issue. Barak also said Thursday that negotiations to free Goldwasser and Regev were developing and that the issue would be resolved in a matter of days or weeks. Meanwhile, at a meeting scheduled for Tuesday, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is expected to impress upon Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak the importance of ending Schalit's captivity and urge him to use his leverage with Hamas to get them to show flexibility on the list of prisoners they are demanding for Schalit's release. Also Friday, Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hossam Zaki said that only after the prisoner swap between Israel and Hamas is completed will the Gaza blockade be entirely lifted. He said that Schalit's release was not part of the first stage of the Gaza truce agreement. "We need to stabilize the truce before we can move on to the next stages and before the prisoners can be freed," Zaki told the pan-Arab Al-Arabiya news channel. Meanwhile, a Dahaf Institute poll published in Yediot Ahronot Friday showed that a majority of Israelis support the truce but doubt it will last for long. The poll showed that 56 percent of Israelis support the one-day-old ceasefire, but 79 percent said they do not believe or are inclined not to believe that it will last for long. Seventy-eight percent of those questioned told pollsters that the agreement should have been made contingent on Schalit's release. The poll included 500 respondents and had a margin of error of 4.4 percentage points. Herb Keinon, Yaakov Katz and AP contributed to this report