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Haaretz: "IDF reservists to Barak: Renew Shalit talks immediately"

Ha'aretz: "IDF reservists to Barak: Renew Shalit talks immediately"
Jack Khoury, 17/05/2009

Israel Defense Forces reservists demanded on Sunday that Ehud Barak work to immediately renew negotiations to secure the release of abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

The group of reservists, comprised of officers and rank and file soldiers, made the demand during a meeting with Barak at his Tel Aviv office. They stressed in particular the need for an official specifically responsible for the case to be appointed.

They also asked Barak to press United States President Barack Obama's administration to condition financial aid for the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip on the receipt of information on Shalit and permission for the Red Cross to visit him.

"We demanded that they apply pressure on the Red Cross, so that the treatment of Hamas prisoners in Israel will be symmetrical to the treatment Gilad Shalit receives in captivity," said Tzahi Lion, a reservist IDF officer who participated in the meeting.

"We have a sacred duty bring Gilad Shalit back and we will do all that we can in order to bring him home to his family," Barak told the reservists, repeating his commitment to securing Gilad's release.

Noam Shalit, the abducted soldier's father, made a similar demand on Saturday, the eve of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's visit to the United States. Speculating that the Obama administration would demand that Israel ease its blockade on Gaza as a precondition, Noam Shalit said that he hoped that Netanyahu would not do so without obtaining further proof that Gilad is alive.

Security sources estimate that Netanyahu will appoint a new official to handle the negotiations with Hamas upon his return from Washington.

Rabbi Menachem Creditor

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