[News] Olmert Rejects Negotiations to Release Captured Soldier for Imprisoned Women and Children

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Tue Jun 27 12:03:13 EDT 2006

Olmert Rejects Negotiations to Release Captured 
Soldier for Imprisoned Women and Children, Orders 
Preparations for a Comprehensive Assault on Gaza

Olmert Dashes Hopes of Palestinian, Israeli 
Families Rice Urges Diplomacy, France Mediates to 
Release ‘Missing’ Israeli Soldier


Grabbed by what Anshel Pfeffer described in The 
Jerusalem Post on Monday as the “Entebbe 
Syndrome,” the Israeli premier Ehud Olmert ruled 
out negotiations and rejected a Palestinian 
demand to free 400 women and minors among more 
than 9,800 Palestinian detainees in the jails of 
the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF), dashing the 
hopes of both the Palestinian families and the 
Israeli family of the “missing” soldier.

The IOF reported corporal Gilad Shalit “missing” 
following a daring Palestinian attack, in which 
two Palestinians were killed when they attacked 
an IOF unit protecting the Israeli-Egyptian 
border crossing of Karm Abu Salem (known to 
Israelis as Kerem Shalom), after killing two 
Israeli soldiers and wounding four others.

In an unconfirmed report spokesman for the 
Popular Resistance Committee (PRC), Mahmoud Abed 
Ala’al, told Ynet on Monday evening that his 
group kidnapped an Israeli settler in the West Bank.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas meanwhile set 
up a special operations room to monitor the 
situation, ordered search for the missing Israeli 
soldier, was in close contact with Egyptian 
mediators and spoke with the US Secretary of 
State Condoleezza Rice Arab as well as world 
leaders to defuse the tension and search for 
information on the whereabouts of the missing soldier.

“President Abbas is exerting maximum efforts in 
order to acquire the release of the soldier, 
alive and unharmed,” said Palestinian chief 
negotiator and lawmaker Saeb Erakat.

Israel sealed off and prevented entry to and exit 
from the Gaza Strip, practically besieging 
President Abbas inside the Mediterranean coastal strip.

Olmert Orders ‘Ongoing Military Action’

Ruling out negotiations, Olmert instead insisted 
that, “the age of restraint has come to an end,” 
and “gave an order to military leaders to prepare 
our troops, so that they are ready for 
comprehensive and ongoing military action.”

He ruled out negotiations: “This is not a matter 
of negotiations, this is not a matter of 
bargaining,” Olmert said in a speech to a Jewish 
Agency gathering in Jerusalem.

However, the United States, Israel’s strategic 
ally, had a different point of view.

“There really needs to be an effort now to try 
and calm the situation, not to let the situation 
escalate and to give diplomacy a chance to work 
to try to get this release,” Secretary Rice told 
reporters who landed in Scotland for a refueling 
stop en route to Pakistan. She was referring to 
the missing dual Israeli-French soldier Gilad Shalit, 19.

Israel Radio indicated in a report this morning 
that Israeli officials have effectively given the 
US veto power over Israeli action. The reporter 
explained that Israel cannot launch a major 
operation inside the Gaza Strip without America's 
consent, IMRA reported Tuesday.

Israeli President Moshe Katsav on Monday sought 
the help of the Vatican in efforts to release the 
Israeli soldier. He made the request to 
Archbishop Antonio Franco, the new Vatican 
ambassador to Israel, his office said in a statement.

France Joins Mediation Efforts

Meanwhile, France joined Egypt and Russia in their mediation efforts.

In Tel Aviv, The French Embassy in Tel Aviv 
confirmed that Shalit holds French citizenship 
and said Paris was working to win his release.

French ambassador to Israel, Gerard Araud said, 
“The French authorities are in contact with 
Mahmoud Abbas to find ways to obtain the 
soldier’s liberation,” he told journalists, 
adding that he was to visit Shalit’s family on 
Monday at the Mitzpe Hila village in Galilee.

Shalit's family on Monday pleaded with his 
captors to treat him humanely and to remember he 
has a loving family who misses him dearly.

“The only thing we have left right now is hope, 
nothing more,” Noam Shalit told the Associated Press Television.

Hope was also wide spread among the families of 
thousands of Palestinians detainees kidnapped by 
the IOF soldiers in a still going on kidnapping spree.

Palestinian local radio stations were busy 
broadcasting interviews with Palestinian 
prisoners who conveyed hopes for their release as 
part of a prisoner exchange as well as with their 
families who also pleaded for Shalit’s safety.

Hanah Kosey Khatib, from Nablus, whose three sons 
– Ahmad, Mohammad and Mikdad – are currently in 
the IOF military prisons, told Ynet that nations 
of the world are exerting pressure on the 
kidnappers to release Shalit, but are not paying 
heed to her sons or their friends.

“Is the life of a kidnapped soldier worth more 
than the lives of our children?” she asked. “Does 
a mother of a kidnapped soldier feel more pain 
than we do? Our children have been in jail for 
years. In my case, I have not been allowed to 
meet with my children for four years and no one cares, no one gets involved.”

Release of Palestinian Women, Minors Demanded

Olmert on Monday rejected a demand by three 
anti-occupation groups that Israel frees about 
100 Palestinian women and more than 313 minors in 
exchange for releasing Shalit.

The three groups said in a statement they would 
only release information on the fate of Shalit if 
Israel freed Palestinian women and minors incarcerated in Israeli prisons.

“The Occupation [Israel] will not get any 
information about its missing soldier unless it 
abides by the following: release all female 
prisoners in Israeli jails... and children under 
the age of 18,” the statement said.

It was signed by Al-Nasser Salahuddin Brigades, 
the Army of Islam and the Izzuddin al-Qassam 
Brigades, the military wing of Hamas.

Wasfi Kibha, the Palestinian cabinet Minister of 
Prisoner Affairs, said Israel holds 150 women and 360 children under 16.

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