Parents of captured Israeli soldier plead for his release



JERUSALEM - The parents of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit made an impassioned appeal on Sunday for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to reach a deal with his captors, saying time was running out.
"We believe that the next few days are fateful for our beloved son Gilad," his parents, Noam and Aviva Shalit, wrote in a letter to Netanyahu.



Gilad Shalit's brother, mother and father
Gilad Shalit's brother, mother and father
"We watch the actions of the government of Israel with deep trepidation and great hope," they said.
The appeal comes amid mounting speculation that a deal may be close between Israel and the Hamas movement on a prisoner exchange of some 1,000 jailed Palestinians for Shalit, who was captured by Gaza militants in 2006.
Netanyahu convened a meeting of his security cabinet for a third time on Sunday, for what officials said were talks to discuss the Shalit case.
The meeting ended late at night without any announcement, but officials said Netanyahu was objecting to Hamas militants convicted of involvement with suicide bombings being released to their homes in the West Bank.
Adding to the speculation, Egypt's intelligence chief Omar Suleiman -- who is Cairo's pointman for the indirect talks between Israel and Hamas -- held talks in Israel on Sunday with senior officials.
Israel does not officially comment on the negotiations over Shalit.
Hamas and two smaller Palestinian militant groups captured Shalit in June 2006 when they tunnelled into Israel from Gaza and attacked an army post, killing two soldiers.
"We appeal to you, Mr prime minister, before it is too late, please don't lay all the problems of the Middle East on the slim shoulders of our son," the Shalits wrote.
Netanyahu was expected to meet Shalit's parents on Monday.
Israel and Hamas have in recent weeks appeared to be edging closer to an agreement to free the 23-year-old soldier.
But despite the involvement of a German mediator the two sides have yet to reach a deal, with both imposing strict internal censorship on any discussion of the negotiations.
On Tuesday, Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal said Israel was responsible for the delay in releasing Shalit and insisted that he would only be freed when Israel agrees to release hundreds of Palestinian prisoners.
Netanyahu and Israeli leaders "will never again see Shalit" if Hamas's demands are not met, Meshaal said during a visit to Tehran.
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Monday, December 21st 2009
AFP
           


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