Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas left for Amman today for a flash visit in hopes of advancing a solution to the issue of kidnapped Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit. Sources say that Abbas will probably meet with a top Israeli security official and discuss further action for the release of the soldier.
Meanwhile an IDF Military Court Judge in Israel ordered the release of 18 Palestinian officials from prison yesterday. These officials include cabinet ministers and members of the parliament belonging to Hamas who were arrested for membership in the terrorist group. This decision, together with the decision to form a Palestinian Unity Government with Hamas and Fatah may be the key to the release of Gilad Shalit from his captivity.
Defense Minister Amir Peretz said on the subject that the release of Gilad Shalit could be seen as a confidence-building step that could jumpstart the peace talks with the Palestinians. Peretz said that “the release of Shalit will change the atmosphere and could potentially forward the process of Israeli-Palestinian talks.”
On the issue of the proposed Palestinian Unity Government, Peretz said that it is important to see what the guidelines of the new government are. “If there is a recognition of Israel, a renouncement of terror and violence and recognition of past agreements, it is truly a shift in the situation,” Peretz said.
Peretz warned, however, that there is a need to ensure that this is not just an attempt to “launder” the Hamas, which may not even consider fulfilling the conditions stipulated by the international community.