Israel: No Gaza truce without Shalit

Wednesday, February 18, 2009 |  Israel Today Staff

The Israeli cabinet on Wednesday unanimously decided that it will not agree to a formal Egyptian-brokered ceasefire in Gaza until the ruling Hamas terrorist organization releases abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

Over the past two weeks, Hamas and Egypt have leaked reports that a formal ceasefire was imminent, but consistently rejected Israel's demand that Shalit be included in the deal.

In fact, Hamas has tried to turn the tables and give the impression that it won the recent Gaza war by declaring that it would only sign a truce deal and agree to stop attacking southern Israel if Israel threw open the borders to the coastal territory to unhindered traffic.

Israel has indicated that it would include the release of up to 1,000 jailed Palestinian terrorists in a comprehensive deal including Shalit, but Hamas rejected the proposal.

Olmert said he knows that sticking to Israel's original demands regarding Shalit will delay a deal, but insisted that doing so is necessary to finally end the soldier's three-and-a-half-year captivity.

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