Bereaved Parents on Shalit Deal Secrecy: Gov’t Betraying Us Again?

Aviad Glickman

Bereaved Parents on Shalit Deal Secrecy: Gov’t Betraying Us Again?

High Court debates petition calling for publication of names of Palestinians slated for release if Shalit deal finalized. ‘We know how things work during prisoner exchanges. Cabinet will decide on it in the middle of the night,’ bereaved families’ rep says



The High Court of Justice on Monday debated a petition filed by bereaved parents which calls for the removal of the censorship the State of Israel places on details pertaining to an impending prisoner exchange deal for the release of IDF soldier Gilad Shalit.

The petition was filed by bereaved parents and the Almagor Terror Victims Association against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the government and the military censorship, and calls for the publication of reports and details of the deal, including the list of Palestinian prisoners slated for release.

Supreme Court President Dorit Beinish said following the closed hearing that “we were told there is no deal as of yet. There are gaps between the sides and it is possible that there will be no deal. In the current situation, there are no details to publish.”

It appears that the court will reject the petition.

Yossi Mendelevitch, the bereaved parents’ representative at the hearing, said, “I am standing here on behalf of thousands of victims of the horrific terror of recent years, who cannot cry out against their government,” he said.

“We acknowledge the government’s authority to make any decision concerning the release of terrorists and the Shalit deal, despite the fact that we consider this decision to be harmful and irrational.

“However,” he added, “We do not recognize the (government’s) right to withhold information from the public,” he said. “Is the State of Israel, which betrayed us when it failed to protect our children, betraying us once again by not allowing us to know what is going on with those who murdered our children?”

The families asked the court to forbid Netanyahu from convening the cabinet to decide on a prisoner swap before the details of the negotiations are made public.

“We know how things work during prisoner exchanges. The cabinet will decide on it in the middle of the night, and then a 48-hour window will open, which will not be enough for a thorough public debate,” said Mendelevitch.

Attorney Anar Helman, for the State, said during the hearing that the government has yet to reach a decision on a prisoner exchange.

On Sunday the State filed its response to the petition, saying 980 Palestinians are expected to be freed as part of a deal for Shalit’s release.

Chief Justice: Still No Point in Naming Prisoners in Shalit Swap

Tomer Zarchin

Chief Justice: Still No Point in Naming Prisoners in Shalit Swap

Beinisch calls deal ‘complex;’ bereaved parents to High Court: Will our kids’ killers be freed for Shalit?



Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch on Monday said there was no point in naming the prisoners whom Hamas wanted freed in exchange for Gilad Shalit, since a deal had yet to be reached for the abducted Israeli soldier’s release.

“What we have learned that one can say is that there is still no deal,” Beinisch told the High Court. “It is complex and not agreed upon, there are gaps between the sides and it is possible that there will be no deal. In this situation, there is no place to publish details about it.”

Also Monday, three bereaved parents told the High Court that the military censorship over the developing deal for Shalit was preventing them from fighting the prisoner swap with Hamas.

Beinisch voiced some support for the parents’ arguments, saying that in the defense establishment there were “interested parties who use information manipulatively, and not all of the details are known to everyone involved, apart from Israel’s citizens.”

She added that if a deal is reached, Israel intends on waiting for 48 hours after the names have been published before carrying it out, in order to allow for appeals.

The bereaved parents, for their part, told the court: “What will be harmed in national security if we know whether those who murdered our children are on the list or not? Does the public have no right to know? Our lives are built in cycles, from release to release.”

“Does a parent have no right to know if his son’s murderer is likely to be released?”

Yossi Tzur, Ron Kerman and Yossi Mendelevitch, fathers whose children were killed in a 2003 suicide bombing on a Haifa bus, told the court that their lives had been completely altered by the attack.

They said they now live between Israeli “goodwill gestures” involving the release of militants.

The bereaved parents, who filed the petition in conjunction with the Almagor Terror Victims Association, said that under the current censorship they would only receive the list of Palestinian prisoners sought by Hamas for Shalit as the militants were already on buses leaving jail as part of the deal.

According to the parents, Hamas holds lists of prisoners’ names that it received from the Israeli government.

“How is it possible that in a democratic country, a citizen isn’t permitted to receive the same information the enemy gets?” they asked. “The state will make a decision in the middle of the night, a 48-hour window will open, and then the court will discuss it while the terrorists will already be on the bus.”

Beinisch asked the State Prosecutor’s Office whether publishing the list would in fact harm national security.

A representative of the office, Anar Helman, said in response that, “The German mediator threatened to resign if the list of names would be published.”

He further explained that should the German mediator resign, it would harm the security of the state and would increase the price of the deal.

‘An Ongoing Terror Attack’

The state prosecutor wrote in response to the parents’ petition on Sunday that unlike a prisoner release representing a diplomatic agreement or goodwill gesture, the current negotiations for Shalit are tantamount to “an ongoing terror attack” in which Israel is “bargaining” to reach a deal that would exact the lowest possible price.

If an agreement is reached, the state prosecutor stated, it will only be after the government has considered all of the implications of such an exchange, both moral and practical.

He added that as talks progress and both parties reach an agreement on which inmates to release, a list of names will be publicized.

The response also noted that the military censor is entitled to prohibit the publication of any piece of information it believes “will significantly damage the possibility of returning Shalit alive and healthy,” or alternatively, if it believes publication will compromise national security.

Moreover, it said, it is virtually impossible to hold public negotiations with a “bitter enemy,” a terrorist organization holding a soldier captive and seeking the highest possible price in return for his release.

The state prosecutor wrote that ambiguity is essential to Israel’s very existence, and that without it, “it is impossible to hold effective negotiations and reach the goal of returning the abducted soldier to Israel.”

National Union chair Yaakov Katz petitioned the High Court Sunday, demanding the disclosure of the recommendations and findings of the Shamgar Commission, charged with examining Israel’s policy on prisoner exchanges.

Katz lamented that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak had refused to release the commission’s conclusions, which they maintain have implications for the developing agreement for Shalit.

Shalits Meet with Ministers

Ronen Medzini

Shalits Meet with Ministers

Captive soldier’s parents continue rounds of talks with ministers in hopes of garnering support for impending prisoner exchange deal. After meeting with Minister Katz, father Noam says, ‘There is nothing new… When we see Gilad we will know we have achieved our goal’



The family of captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit continues in its efforts to secure his release. On Monday the soldier’s family held another round of talks with government ministers.

After meeting with Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz, the soldier’s father, Noam Shalit said, “There is nothing new as of yet. We are going on with the meetings, which will be completed within a day or two.

“When we see Gilad, we will know that we have achieved our goal. Until then, we cannot say that.”

Shalit also commented on the State’s responds to a petition filed with the High Court of Justice by the Almagor Terror Victims Association and three bereaved fathers against the impending prisoner exchange deal between Israel and Hamas.

According to the State’s response, Israel may release 980 Palestinian prisoners as part of an exchange deal.

“I do not deal with these matters,” Shalit said. The Shalit family is also scheduled to meet with Minister for Strategic Affairs Moshe Ya’alon, Immigrant Absorption Minister Sofa Landver and Vice Prime Minister Silvan Shalom.

On Sunday, parents Noam and Aviva Shalit met with Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. After the meeting Noam said, “We neither feel encouraged, nor the opposite. We are still waiting.”

In response to questions by reporters outside the minister’s office, Noam Shalit said he had no concrete information. “We have nothing new. We will continue in our meetings will all the members of the government, and we hope to complete them by the end of the week,” he said.

Over the weekend, Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov, a member of Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu party, commented on the impending prisoner exchange deal, and said he would vote in favor.

Report: German Mediator Arrives in Gaza for Fresh Shalit Talks

Avi Issacharoff; Tomer Zarchin

Report: German Mediator Arrives in Gaza for Fresh Shalit Talks

Al-Arabiya: Mediator to relay Israel answer to Hamas demands; Hamas: Deal hinges on 50 jailed Palestinians.



The German mediator involved in negotiations for the release of abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit arrived in Gaza on Monday to relay Israel’s answer to Hamas’ demands in the talks, the Al-Arabiya TV network reported.

According to the report, the mediator was to meet with Hamas representatives later Monday, but the Islamist militant group would only respond to the Israeli offer after consultations between its leaderships in Gaza and Damascus.

Earlier Monday, a senior Hamas official said the organization is still sparring with Israel over the names of 50 prisoners it wants released in exchange for Shalit.

The official said Israel was still balking at including prominent political leaders and top Hamas militants it holds.

Last week, Israeli and Hamas officials spoke of progress, raising speculation that an agreement could be wrapped up within days. In Gaza, Hamas’ interior minister said he hoped a deal would be reached by year’s end.

Hamas earlier Monday accused Israel of working to sabotage the prisoner swap deal, saying negotiations were stalled due to Israel’s continued refusal to accept the group’s demands.

Hamas’ public relations supervisor Osama Hamdan told the Al-Hayyat pan-Arab daily that figures in Israel were seeking to make the deal fail by leaking details of the negotiations, in particular with regard to the release of terrorists with “blood on their hands.”

The paper quotes Hamas sources as saying that Israel is still refusing the group’s demands to release senior militants Ibrahim Hamad, Abdullah Barghouti and Abbas Asayeb.

According to the report, Israel has not even agreed to raise these prisoners’ names during negotiations and has rejected Hamas’ offers to send them into exile following release.

The newspaper also said Israel would not agree to release five female Palestinian inmates sentenced to life in prison or other extended terms, even though their names were on the original list of 450 “heavy” prisoners set to be exchanged.

These female inmates included Ahalam Tamimi, who was Abdullah Barghouti’s right-hand woman and helped carry out the deadly 2001 suicide bombing at the Sbarro pizza restaurant in Jerusalem, in which 15 people were killed.

Shalit’s Father: No News of Breakthrough in Deal

Meanwhile, Shalit’s father said Monday that he has received no word of new breakthroughs in negotiations to secure a deal for his son’s release.

Noam Shalit, who has recently held a series of meetings with cabinet ministers, said he “was not concerned with whether the number of prisoners to be released is disclosed,” despite ongoing debate in Israel regarding the role of censorship in the prisoner swap debate.

On Sunday, the State Prosecutor’s Office declared that Israel would release 980 prisoners in exchange for captive soldier Gilad Shalit. The announcement came in response to a petition filed by the parents of terror victims.

Israel and Hamas have promised the German mediator negotiating the swap that the names of inmates released would not be disclosed, in order to ensure productive negotiations without media interference.

The petition, filed by three bereaved parents in conjunction with the Almagor Terror Victims Association, asked to lift military censorship over the developing deal for Shalit’s release. The High Court will hear the petition Monday afternoon.

The state prosecutor responded that Israel is weighing the option of freeing 450 prisoners in the initial stage of the deal, “based on security and moral justifications.” The unilateral release of 530 more prisoners, to be selected by Israel, is being planned for a later date as a gesture to the Palestinian people. Drafting the criteria for the second stage has yet to begin, nor has a potential list of inmates been compiled.

Israel: 980 Prisoners to Be Freed for Shalit

Aviad Glickman

Israel: 980 Prisoners to Be Freed for Shalit

As part of its response to bereaved parents’ High Court petition, State says 450 prisoners may be released as part of deal securing kidnapped soldier’s release, adds ‘530 additional prisoners chosen by Israel will be freed as a gesture to the Palestinian people’



The State on Sunday responded to a petition filed with the High Court of Justice by the Almagor Terror Victims Association and three bereaved fathers against the impending prisoner exchange deal between Israel and Hamas.

“As part of an agreement with Hamas, which would allow the return of soldier Gilad Shalit to Israel,” the State said in its response, “there is a possibility for the release in principle of about 450 prisoners whose names are being delivered by Hamas, and whose release is being examined in detail in accordance with different considerations and based on rationales of security and values.”

The State added, “It should be stressed that contrary to the release of prisoners as part of a gesture and/or diplomatic agreement, this is an incident of bargaining, which can be seen as an ongoing terror attack, as part of which negotiations are being held to reach the lowest price possible as far as the State of Israel is concerned.”

The State went on to detail the second stage of the deal: “As a gesture to the Palestinian people, some 530 additional prisoners selected by Israel as slated to be released. The list of these prisoners has not been formed yet and no criteria have been set on this matter.”

The bereaved parents asked why the State was not publishing the criteria for a prisoner release as part of the impending swap deal with Hamas and why it won’t stop using military censorship for free publication of reports about the deal and negotiations in a way that would allow an unbiased public dialogue on the matters requiring a decision before the deal’s implementation.

‘No Effective Talks Without Vagueness’

The State responded that “the sides have explicitly promised the foreign mediator, as a condition for the negotiations, that the details of the negotiations would remain discreet, in order to allow him to hold effective negotiations between the sides, which would not be run through and by the media.”

Attorney Anar Helman, who is in charge of High Court petitions at the State Prosecutor’s Office, and Deputy State Prosecutor Gilad Shirman noted that past experience shows that when details of negotiations are published by the media, “this leads to a radicalization of positions on the other side, which makes it difficult to bridge between the sides and badly damage, and many even thwart, the possibility of realizing the entire purpose of the negotiations, i.e. returning the kidnapped soldier alive and well to his home and country, as soon as possible.”

Rallying for Gilad Shalit (Photo: Dudi Vaaknin)

The State’s representatives added that “the military censorship is authorized to ban the publication of a certain new item, when it reaches the conclusion that publishing that item would most probably substantially damage the possibility of returning soldier Gilad Shalit.”

They noted, however, that it was important to have a public dialogue on the matter and that censorship would not prevent a public dialogue. The State noted that contrary to what can be understood from the petition, anyone living in the country who has been exposed to the media in the past few weeks had to be aware of the serious public dialogue taking place.

“If and when the deal is formed, all the considerations and relevant information will be brought to the government for its consideration,” the State said in its response. “All the considerations which guided the elements who took part in forming the deal will be taken into account, including considerations of security and values.”

The State called on the petitioners to include Shalit’s parents in their appeal so that they could present their stand on the matter, “as they may be directly hurt if the petitioners are given what they are asking for in the petition.”

The High Court is expected to discuss Almagor’s petition on Monday, as well as a petition filed by Knesset Member Yaakov Katz (National Union), asking that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak publish the recommendations of the Shamgar Committee, which was appointed to discuss the principles for negotiating the release of hostages.

Prosecution to Court: Don’t Publish Prisoners’ Names in Shalit Deal

Aviad Glickman

Prosecution to Court: Don’t Publish Prisoners’ Names in Shalit Deal



The State Prosecutor’s Office replied to the petition submitted to the Supreme Court by the Almagor Terror Victims’ Association calling for the publication of the names of the Palestinian prisoners slated to be released as part of the swap deal for captured soldier Gilad Shalit.

The State Prosecution asked that such a publication not be allowed at the moment, claiming that “past experience has shown that when the details of this type of negotiations are discussed in the media, it leads to a radicalization of the other side’s positions.”

Bereaved Parents to High Court: Shalit Deal Must Be Made Public

Tomer Zarchin; Ofra Edelman

Bereaved Parents to High Court: Shalit Deal Must Be Made Public

‘It’s not fair that everyone—the enemy, the mediators, the government—knows the details, except the Israeli public.’



A group of bereaved parents who have lost children in terrorist attacks petitioned the High Court of Justice on Tuesday to force full disclosure of the Gilad Shalit deal.

“The government must report to the public and allow a public debate,” said Dan Sion, a member of a group of officers from kibbutzim who joined the bereaved parents and the Almagor terror victims organization in the battle against the government censorship.

“It’s not fair that everyone – the enemy, the mediators, the government – know the names of the terrorists to be released, [everyone] except the Israeli public,” he said. “You can’t ignore the fact that to ease the process, it’s being carried out without the public knowing it’s going to pay a price.”

“They’re leaving the public [just] 48 hours to speak its mind. This is what the government is doing, [drafting] the agreement by stealth,” he added.

Ron Karman, a member of the parent group appealing to the Supreme Court said “They’re only publishing the names when there’s no more time to discuss it. I suppose if the public knew the names, there wouldn’t be such support for [the deal] in the media.”

Karman, who lost his daughter in the suicide bombing of bus no. 37 in Haifa in 2003, said “I would do anything to get my daughter back, or my son, if he should be captured, god forbid. But I’m not appealing against the Shalit family, I’m making a request of the leadership. The government of Israel is responsible for the safety and lives of 7.5 million people.

Gilad Shalit was sent to the front lines by the State of Israel, and it should do everything it can to release him, but not at the price of risking the lives of everyone else.”

Bereaved Parents Petition Against Censorship of Shalit Talks

Ahiya Raved; Aviad Glickman; Efrat Weiss

Bereaved Parents Petition Against Censorship of Shalit Talks

Almagor Terror Victims Association, bereaved parents demand free publication of details of impending prisoner exchange deal, including list of names of terrorists slated for release, say, ‘Use of censorship wrong, illegal, meant to prevent proper public debate’



A petition filed to the High Court of Justice on Tuesday by bereaved parents calls for the removal of the censorship the State of Israel places on details pertaining to an impending prisoner exchange deal for the release of Gilad Shalit.

The petition was filed by bereaved parents and the Almagor Terror Victims Association against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the government and the military censorship, and calls for free publication of reports and details of the deal, including the required criteria for the release of Palestinian prisoners.

The petition, filed by Ron Karman, Yossi Zur, Yossi Mendelvitch, who lost their children in a Haifa bus bomb in 2003, and Almagor, argues that, “In recent days, reports have been circulating in the media of a deal nearing finalization, which will include the release of hundreds of prisoners who were tried and sentenced, including prisoners convicted of mass murder, prisoners who are residents of Israel, and all the red lines drawn by the government are about to be crossed.”

The three petitioners noted that the planners of the terror attack that left their children dead were caught and are currently serving their sentences while being up for release as part of an exchange deal.

The bereaved parents’ petition further read, “The question of the release of murderers with blood on their hands as part of a deal for the release of a captive Israeli soldier is a serious question, which is meant to keep the State’s leaders occupied. This is a question with legal, moral, ethical and security consequences of the highest degree, and it should not be decided on in secret without a thorough and comprehensive discussion, based only on public opinion shaped by publicists and the campaign led by the Shalit family, whose position is understood and clear, and its personal pain rules out any alternative to releasing prisoners at all costs.”

On the issue of censorship, the petition said, “Military censorship has been used to block reports of the deal being formed, as well as the publication of the list of those designated for release, in a manner that prevents unbiased public debate. The list of terrorists and murderers whose release is up for discussion has not been cleared for publication, and neither have details of the impending deal. The use of censorship in the above matter is wrong and illegal – there is a moral and ethical question on the agenda, and this manner in which the censorship is being used is wrong and illegal – and has one purpose – to prevent a proper public debate in one of the basic issues of our lives before a decision is made.”

‘Not a Personal Vendetta’

Mendelvitch told Ynet shortly before the petition was filed, “This is not a persona vendetta of ours. The public must know which murderers will be released and threaten our lives. These are not people who worked in beads or in agriculture. The cabinet’s minister must not think collective responsibility will protect them when they approve this awful deal. When Israeli citizens are murdered by terrorists that were released, their blood will be on the hands of those who approved the deal.”

Zur added, “The Shas MK’s proposal to have the terrorists sign a one million shekel guarantee as a condition for their release is a step in the right direction. Maybe they are starting to sober up and understand the disastrous significance of the deal.”

Meanwhile, Netanyahu commented on reports of progress in talks on Tuesday and said he would allow a public debate in the matter if conditions for a deal are reached with Hamas. However, the prime minister stressed that as of yet, “there is no agreement and no decision.”

“There is still no deal and I don’t know if there will be one,” he said, “If there is, it will be brought before the government. We will spare no public discussion, and we will not execute it in secret. We will allow ministers and the public to debate it,” Netanyahu said speaking from the police headquarters in Jerusalem.

Appeal to High Court to Break Gag Order on List of Terrorists

Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu

Appeal to High Court to Break Gag Order on List of Terrorists

Victims of terror have appealed to the High Court to order the government to publish the list terrorists it wants to free in return for Shalit.

Israel National News


(Flash 90)

The Almagor terror victims association, on behalf of three parents whose children were killed by terrorists, appealed to the High Court Tuesday morning to order the government to publish the list terrorists it has approved for release in exchange for kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit. Tuesday’s appeal was filed on behalf of Yossi Tzur, Yossi Mendelovich and Ron Kerman, whose children were killed in an Arab attack on a bus in Haifa.

They warned that the “lack of knowledge and lack of time” are impeding their ability to challenge the government’s plans on the basis of endangering public safety. Previous releases have resulted in terrorists returning to violence and killing more than 180 Israelis.

The military censor has imposed a gag order on all information concerning the rumored deal that would free up to 1,400 prisoners and terrorists, including those guilty of being involved in lethal attacks, in return for Shalit. Since he was kidnapped more than three years ago, Hamas has refused to honor the Geneva Convention that requires allowing Red Cross officials to communicate with kidnap victims.

Attorneys for Almagor argued that the gag order is based on political and not security reasons in order to help secure approval of the proposal to bring Shalit back home. Although he is thought to be physically well, his emotional condition is unknown.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is trying to garner cabinet support to free the terrorists, and most observers think he has a majority of the 30 ministers. Only four – Moshe Yaalon Yuval Steinitz, Benny Begin, all of the Likud, and Yisrael Beiteinu’s Uzi Landau – have already stated they oppose freeing terrorists.

Likud ministers Yaakov Neeman, Yossi Peled, Dan Meridor, Yuli Edelstein, Gilad Erdan, Yisrael Katz, along with four Shas ministers and five from Labor, are expected to support the proposal. In the undecided column are Silvan Shalom, Limor Livnat, Moshe Kahlon, Michael Eitan and Gideon Saar of Likud.

Other undecided ministers are four from Yisrael Beiteinu and Jewish Home chairman Rabbi Dr. Daniel Hershkowitz.

Almagor: 30 Attacks Caused by Released Terrorists

Almagor: 30 Attacks Caused by Released Terrorists

Israel National News


The Almagor terror victims association, relating to news of a pending deal for kidnapped soldier GIlad Shalit, says that terrorists released by Israel in the past have carried out some 30 terror attacks resulting in the deaths of over 180 Israelis.

Hamas: Too Soon to Say Shalit Deal Is Imminent

Amos Harel; Avi Issacharoff; Barak Ravid; agencies

Hamas: Too Soon to Say Shalit Deal is Imminent

Report: Hamas delegation set to meet Shalit mediator in Cairo; Hamas: Shalit swap hinges on one prisoner.



The Hamas leadership in Syria said late Monday that it was too early to speak about certain results or a close agreement on a deal for the release of abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, despite a slew of media reports to the contrary.

The Damascus-based officials added in a statement that Israel was trying to create pressure through leaks to the media.

The statement came shortly after the Arabic-language news network Al Arabiya reported that a Hamas delegation in Cairo would discuss the deal with the German mediator involved in negotiations over Shalit.

Earlier Monday, Hamas sources said the deal hinged on the name of one final Palestinian prisoner who Israel is not prepared to free, according to the Islamist group’s official journal A-Risala.

The journal would not reveal the name of the prisoner. Nonetheless, the sources said significant progress in negotiations had been made, adding that the deal could be expected to be completed by the middle of next week, granted Israel agrees to its final terms.

Hamas delegates were in Cairo to debate the final prisoner list presented by Israel for an exchange that would see Shalit freed after more than three years in captivity.

Officials close to the talks said Israel had agreed to include in the exchange for Shalit some 160 prisoners whose release it had vetoed previously.

Sources have said Hamas, in the first part of a deal, would hand over Shalit to Egypt and Israel would release some 350 to 450 prisoners.

In a sign of flexibility from Hamas, the sources said, the group had agreed that some would go into exile rather than return to the West Bank or Gaza Strip.

More prisoners would be released when Shalit was transferred from Egypt to Israel, while other prisoner releases could take several more weeks to complete.

Officials who reported that a deal is approaching said Arabs holding Israeli citizenship are among the 160 newly agreed prisoners slated for release. Israel had objected to including Israeli Arabs in an exchange.

Hamas leaders have previously been very circumspect about reports of breakthroughs, but reports circulating of late have predicted an imminent deal.

Speaking after meeting Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo on Sunday, President Shimon Peres said that progress had been made on bringing Shalit home, but “the details must be kept behind the scenes.”

Hamas Official Confirms Progress in Talks

Meanwhile, senior Hamas leader Ayman Taha told Haaretz that “there was movement on the matter.” Palestinian sources reported that Taha and the delegation of senior Hamas leaders would meet with Egyptian intelligence officials and the German mediator on the Shalit deal.

It is unclear who will take part in the delegation, but the Al-Arabiya news station said it would include Hamas officials from the Gaza Strip and Damascus.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s bureau declined to comment on reports in the Arab media on the matter, but did not deny that there had been progress. Members of the “forum of seven” senior government ministers also declined to comment.

Much of Peres’ meeting with Mubarak was devoted to Shalit, and the two updated each other on contacts with the German mediator. They also discussed the diplomatic impasse in talks with the Palestinian Authority. Before leaving for Cairo on Sunday morning, Peres met with Netanyahu for two hours at the President’s Residence.

Peres told Mubarak about steps Netanyahu would be willing to take if talks with the Palestinians were renewed, steps regarding a freeze in construction in the settlements and the dismantling of illegal outposts.

National Security Adviser Uzi Arad, who joined Peres on his trip to Cairo, met with Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman but did not take part in the Peres-Mubarak meeting.

The two presidents were alone for most of the meeting, except for 15 minutes at the end, during which Peres adviser Avi Gil took part. Arad was present at the luncheon Mubarak hosted for the Israeli delegation, and spoke mainly with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit.

At a joint press conference after the meeting, Peres said that as soon as negotiations started with the Palestinians, Israel would build no new settlements nor expand existing ones, and would evacuate illegal outposts.

On previous occasions when talks were at a critical juncture, Ahmed Jabri, the head of Hamas’ military wing, went to Egypt with two of his aides, Nizar Awadallah and Marwan Issa. They would be joined by senior Gaza Hamas official Mahmoud Zahar.

Speaking at an Israel Defense Forces induction base on Sunday, Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi said expectations of Shalit’s return were at a stage of “controlled optimism.” But Ashkenazi cautioned that there had been many optimistic reports in the past. “Our obligation to a soldier who was sent on a mission is to bring him home, and I prefer to keep the details behind the scenes,” Ashkenazi said.

Meanwhile, the leader of the group of Israeli activists working for Shalit’s release, Shimshon Liebman, told Haaretz that their silence over the past few days had not been coordinated with the prime minister’s bureau, censorship officials or because of any new information.

“At a time like this, when there are so many groundless rumors, we prefer to give space to those doing the work and not interfere,” Liebman said.

Meir Indor Lashes Out at Sderot Conference

Ilene Rosenblum

Meir Indor Lashes Out at Sderot Conference

Arutz Sheva radio show host criticizes social issues conference organizers for not allowing victims of terrorism to have a voice.

Israel National News


(Israel news photo)

Social activist and Arutz Sheva weekly radio host Meir Indor criticized Sderot Conference for Society President Maj. Gen. (ret.) Uzi Dayan for offering the conference’s annual prize to Kibbutz Movement activist Yoel Marshak on Wednesday.

“To whom did the conference organizers decide to give the annual prize on social issues at the end of the conference today?” Indoor asked. “To the Task Division of the Kibbutz Movement lead by Yoel Marshak. This is the same division that worked alongside the Palestinians in their conflicts with settlers in Judea and Samaria, that occur when the Arabs harvest olives next to the settlements. This is the same division that backed the Disengagement that brought us into this security and social disaster. This is the same division that Marshak turned into the most media-savvy division of the campaign to constantly pressure the government to deal with Hamas at any price – while releasing hundreds of murderous terrorists.”

Indor charged the conference organizers of regularly preventing the participation of terror victims and those who oppose the release of terrorists or security gestures toward the Palestinians. Indor, who was himself wounded in a terrorist attack, is head of the Almagor organization for victims of Arab terrorism and a retired lieutenant colonel.

“A year ago I turned to Uzi Dayan and asked him to involve us in discussions, after a debate was held without the participation of representatives from the Almagor terrorist victims organization,” Indor said. “But again, in a similar panel that was held today, most participants were supporters of a release deal with Hamas: Miki Goldwasser, Yoel Marshak from the Kibbutz Movement and Maj. Gen. (ret.) Eyal Ben-Reuven. Representatives of Almagor and parents who are against the deal were not invited,” he said.

Indoor argues that although the conference has an image of being pluralistic and heterogenous, it has been supported in the past and continues to be supported by organizations from outside Israel like the New Israel Fund, which he says support Palestinian groups and have a clearly one-sided agenda regarding Palestinians and terror organizations.

The annual two-day conference run by the Sapir College in Sderot and the National Council for Social Security discusses social problems facing Israeli society. It was held on Tuesday and Wednesday in the southern town.

Almagor: We Expected Barak to Act on Military Lessons

Almagor: We Expected Barak to Act on Military Lessons

Israel National News


The Almagor umbrella group of terror-victims organizations said on Sunday that Israel should threaten the Palestinian Authority with unilateral actions if the PA takes unilateral actions. Senior PA negotiator Saeb Erekat had warned that the PA might unilaterally declare a PA state in Judea and Samaria.

Almagor called on the government to flatly reject the words of Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who said that Israel should end what he called its occupation of lands liberated in 1967. Dr. Aryeh Bachrach, a bereaved father from Almagor’s leadership, said, “Of all people, we expected that the defense minister, who has failed in the past in such matters, would act based on the military lessons [of these failures] and not internal political needs.”