Aviva and Noam Shalit, parents of captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, made the trip to New York last week to march in the annual Salute to Israel parade. This was the first trip to America for Gilad’s mother, while his father has made several trips abroad to garner support for his son who was captured in a cross-border raid by Hamas three years ago.
Negotiations for the release of his son have remained frozen, Noam Shalit told The Big Lipowsky. In the months since Benjamin Netanyahu assumed the premiership, there has been “nothing” done to advance Shalit’s cause, he said.
The Saturday night before the parade, The Jerusalem Post reported that Intelligence Services Minister Dan Meridor had turned down an offer from the Netanyahu government to take over the Shalit negotiating team. On Sunday, former senior Mossad official Hagai Hadas accepted Netanyahu’s charge.
“I hope now it will start to move,” Noam Shalit said. He added that he expected the Obama administration to be “a major player” in the negotiations, adding that “there are many ways to put pressure on Hamas.”
Seeing his son safely returned home should not be only his goal, Noam Shalit said. “There is a bottleneck in relations between the Palestinians,” he said, adding that until the issue is settled, the Palestinians cannot advance on any other front – particularly the reconstruction of Gaza. It is therefore in their benefit, he said, to solve the situation quickly.
According to a Jerusalem Post report today, Hamas has said that negotiations for Shalit’s release have restarted. Hamas, however, reportedly continues to insist on the release of 1,000 prisoners from Israeli jails, including many directly involved in terror attacks that claimed the lives of Israelis.
Asked if there is a cost too high to pay for his son’s return, Shalit said, “I should do whatever it takes. If there were other options, I would use them. Apparently there are no other alternatives.”