Shas Chair: Talk Straight to Hamas

Yuval Azoulay; Shahar Ilan

Shas Chair: Talk Straight to Hamas



Shas Chairman and Industry Minister Eli Yishai urged the government yesterday to consider direct negotiations with Hamas over Gilad Shalit, since indirect talks via Egypt have done nothing to bring the kidnapped soldier home.

Israel has negotiated directly with enemies in the past to get its captives back, he noted.

The Meretz faction also urged the government to resume negotiations on a prisoner exchange. MK Ran Cohen (Meretz) said that Shalit must be brought home, “even at the price of releasing thousands of Palestinian prisoners.”

But Absorption Minister Ze’ev Boim (Kadima) countered that “decisions must be made on the basis of past experience, in a considered manner, and not on the basis of emotional blackmail.”

The National Union faction also opposed giving in to Hamas’ demands, with MK Yitzhak Levy arguing that instead, humanitarian aid to Hamas-run Gaza should be conditioned on Shalit’s release.

Almagor, an association of terror victims, similarly urged the government to stand firm, warning: “If we give in to this despicable blackmail, the danger is that we will enter an endless cycle of new kidnappings and terror attacks.”

Physicians for Human Rights demanded that Hamas give Shalit proper medical treatment. In the tape released yesterday, Shalit said that his health has deteriorated and he needs hospitalization.