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PM Netanyahu and wife Sarah headed to London 311.(Photo by: Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO)
PM's wife receives letter on Schalit from Sarkozy's wife
France is “doing everything in order to end Gilad’s suffering, through close cooperation with the Israeli authorities," Carla Bruni-Sarkozy says.
Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, the wife of the French president, has spoken out on behalf of captive soldier Gilad Schalit.

In a letter to Sara Netanyahu, she said that France was “doing everything in order to end Gilad’s suffering, through close cooperation with the Israeli authorities. Like you, I hope with all my heart that this will end very soon.”

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She added that she was “deeply shocked” by what the “young soldier” is going through.

Schalit holds both Israeli and French citizenship, and France has been a strong advocate on his behalf.

The prime minister’s wife, Sara, wrote Bruni-Sarkozy last month as “a mother to a mother,” hoping that she could “find some way to help Israel in its efforts to free our kidnapped soldier.”

Netanyahu personally delivered the letter to the French president during a visit to Paris last month.

The Prime Minister’s Office also released Bruni-Sarkozy’s response on Thursday.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu raised the issue of Schalit while visiting French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé on Thursday, and asked for France’s continued involvement in efforts to bring about his release.

Juppé relayed a similar message to Schalit’s parents, Noam and Aviva, when he visited them in the Jerusalem protest tent, which they have manned for almost a year outside the prime minister’s residence.

Juppé was in Israel on the same day that former Egyptian ambassador to Israel Muhammad Bassiouni was quoted in Egyptian paper Al-Mesryoon on Thursday as saying that an agreement to release captive Schalit could be reached within hours with Hamas in Gaza.

The Prime Minister’s Office denied the report and said that “Negotiations on Gilad are continuous and intensive, but there is no breakthrough on the matter."

Bassiouni later denied the report in an interview with Israel Radio Arabic. He added there are still major problems that are preventing the deal from coming to fruition, but Egypt is making major efforts to solve them.

Hamas also denied the report, Israel Radio reported.

Noam Schalit told reporters that he had not been notified of the impending deal.

Separately the Palestinian Authority’s Ambassador to Russia, Fayad Mustafa, said that third party negotiations between Israel and Hamas in Cairo were close to completion, according to the Ria Novosti website.

Sources close to the Schalit family added that they have stopped counting the number of times the media has reported progress on a deal for Gilad’s release. To their sorrow, the sources said, nothing has changed and they are closing on five years since Gilad’s was kidnapped.

On Wednesday, DPA reported that Defense Ministry Diplomatic-Security Bureau Amos Gilad arrived in Cairo for talks with the Egyptian military government about the Gilad Schalit prisoner exchange deal and the opening of the Rafah border crossing with Gaza.

Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.
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