Soldier’s release could not be tied to agreement

Monday, August 14, 2006 |  by Staff Writer
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said in a meeting with the families of kidnapped soldiers Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser that there was no chance of tying the entire ceasefire agreement to the release of their sons.

“Despite the great difficulty in saying this, I have told the families of the kidnapped soldiers. I looked them in the eye and told them the truth. I am taking full responsibility. I decided to take responsibility on a decision which gives us significant international support in this matter which is not only Israel’s problem, but now the entire international leadership is committed to solving the issue of the kidnapped soldiers,” Olmert said.

The meeting with the Prime Minister was very difficult. There were many tears around the table and the families did not hide their disappointment. “We were expecting for you stick to the principle of releasing the soldiers. We were promised that you will not compromise,” said Benny Regev, brother of Eldad Regev.

After that Olmert said that the issue of the kidnapped soldiers is on his heart day and night. “I meet with the families and I look them in the eye. Do you think it is so easy?” said Olmert to the Cabinet ministers yesterday. Olmert told the families that he is going to appoint a senior official who will personally manage the negotiations for their release.

“When there was a question if to wait for the release of the soldiers or to proceed with a ceasefire, I decided that I wouldl not decide against a ceasefire with only the release of the soldiers stopping the ceasefire from happening. Any other decision is not appropriate and that is what I told the families.”

IDF’s Chief of Staff, Lt. General Dan Halutz said during the Cabinet meeting that the release of the soldiers should be put high on the agenda and how to turn this into an operative issue. Halutz reminded the ministers that Israel holds 13 Hizballah prisoners and many more bodies.

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