Olmert appoints chief negotiator for return of soldiers

Tuesday, August 15, 2006 |  by Staff Writer  

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert appointed Ofer Dekel, formerly Deputy Director of the General Security Services (GSS), to head the diplomatic efforts for the return of the three kidnapped Israeli soldiers Gilad Shalit, Eldad Regev, and Ehud Goldwasser.

The Prime Minister’s office said that Dekel will be assisted by Israel’s security forces as well as other government bodies. Olmert appointed him to take care of all aspects of the return, including international negotiations and contact with the families. The Prime Minister expressed his desire to appoint such a person in the meeting he held with the families on Sunday.

Olmert values Dekel very much, and in the past even recommended him to the position of Director of the GSS after the retirement of Avi Dichter. Ultimately then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon decided to appoint Yuval Diskin to the position. Because of the decision, Dekel decided to retire from GSS.

Dekel is considered very close to Olmert, and the two even jog together at least once a week. Dekel was also involved in the deliberations regarding the restructuring of the Prime Minister’s Office.

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