Gilad Shalit was kidnapped by Hamas almost three years ago. During that time the terrorist group has refused to allow visits by the Red Cross or any international group for that matter.
For the first time since he was kidnapped, Israel has a real chance to negotiate Gilad Shalit’s release. Still reeling from the war that began in December, Hamas wants a cease-fire. Now that she holds some cards,Israel has indicated that it will not agree to a cease-fire until Gilad Shalit is released.
Of course Israel gets bashed for wanting to bring Shalit free. The Foreign Minister of France, returning the the Chirac days where Jewish Blood was considered cheap, essentially said that Gilad Shalit Should Rot in Hamas Prison:
French FM: No reason to link Shalit deal with Gaza crossings
By Barak Ravid and Jack Khoury, Haaretz Correspondent and Haaretz Service
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said Friday that Paris does not agree with Israel’s position that a deal must be set for the release of abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit before Gaza Strip border crossings are opened.
Kouchner said that France support an Egyptian proposal for a truce between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip and does not believe it necessary to link Shalit with any cease-fire deal. The two issues should be worked out simultaneously, Kouchner said, but the one should not be conditioned on the other.
He also confirmed that France has been indirectly negotiating with Hamas via mediation of Syria, Qatar and Norway.
Qatari Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabir al-Thani told French President Nicolas Sarkozy when the two leaders met in Paris two weeks ago that he would engage Hamas intensively to help release Shalit, according to a foreign source.
Israel is still waiting for an answer from Hamas and Egypt on a proposal for marathon talks in Cairo on a new list of Palestinian prisoners to exchange for Shalit.
Sarkozy told al-Thani this was a humanitarian issue and that Shalit was also French citizen. A few months ago Sarkozy gave al-Thani a letter from the Shalit family for Gilad, who gave it to Hamas political-wing head Khaled Meshal.
Meshal, who visits Qatar frequently, is there now as a participant in a conference on assistance to the Gaza Strip. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s emissary for the Shalit affair, Ofer Dekel, returned yesterday from meetings abroad on Shalit and informed Olmert of the results.
The government source said Hamas and Egypt have “not been enthusiastic” about a meeting in Cairo about the new prisoner list.
The Shalit family and the group rallying for Gilad’s release said that if he is not released before Olmert’s term ends, Shalit could become “the second Ron Arad,” referring to the Israeli airman captured in Lebanon in 1986, whose whereabouts are still officially unknown. Hezi Mashita, an activist for Shalit’s release, called yesterday on Olmert not to “miss this last chance for you and for Gilad.”
Meanwhile, the stalemate in talks on the Gaza cease-fire has resulted in an increase in rocket fire from the Strip, with 10 mortar shells and a Qassam rocket fired at the western Negev on Friday.