Simon Peres: Israel should ‘pay any price’ for Gilad Schalit

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President Shimon Peres said Sunday that Israel should pay any price for the release of abducted Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit, who was captured by Hamas in Gaza over three years ago.

“We must continue to act and do everything we can, pay any price, for Gilad’s release,” Peres told Army Radio.

Peres added that Israel was still waiting to hear Hamas’ response to the most recent offer to secure an exchange deal for the release of the abducted IDF soldier.

Shalit was abducted by Gaza militants in a cross-border raid in June 2006, and has been held in captivity since then. Hamas wants some 1,400 prisoners released from Israeli jails in return for handing over the soldier, including some responsible for deadly terror attacks in Israel.

Last week, Fatah strongman Mohammed Dahlan said negotiations for the release of abducted Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit have been derailed due to internal disagreements between Hamas leaders, Israel Radio reported.

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A paper cut-out figure of captured Israeli soldier Sgt. Gilad Schalit is seen backdropped by flags during a march calling for his release near Jerusalem’s Old City, Friday, April 2, 2010. Negotiations between Israel and Hamas for the release of Schalit, captured by Palestinian militants in 2006 and held by Hamas, are currently at a standstill.
Head of the Hamas policy bureau Khaled Meshal has been working to reach an ideal exchange with Israel but has lost faith in such a possibility and is unwilling to continue negotiations, Dahlan told a Jordanian newspaper.

In January this year, a senior Hamas official warned that despite unprecedented progress in the negotiations with the German mediator, the Islamist movement was unlikely to accept Israel’s latest offer for Shalit.

Hamas deputy political leader Moussa Abu Marzouk told the Egyptian daily newspaper Al-Hayat that in its latest offer, Israel had changed its stance over points to which it had already agreed.

The Dubai-based Al-Arabiya earlier this month quoted Hamas sources as saying that Israel is delaying the completion of the Shalit deal by refusing to release 50 Hamas officials it holds in its jails.

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