Olmert says to continue efforts for kidnapped soldier
Israel's outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will make more efforts to bring back a household-known kidnapped soldier from the Hamas movement, said the captive's father on Tuesday.
Following a private meeting with Olmert, who just finished a special cabinet meeting on the negotiations over a possible prisoner swap deal with Hamas aimed to secure the return of Gilad Shalit, the soldier's father, Noam Shalit, revealed that Olmert pledged continued efforts for his son's freedom, Xinhua reported.
"Olmert is still working on the Gilad matter, he is not giving up, and this will go on until the last moment," local news service Ynet quoted Noam as saying.
Details of the closed-door cabinet meeting were not released, except that the ministers decided to publicize the list of prisoners Hamas has demanded to be freed in exchange for Shalit's release. Olmert is scheduled to make a public address on this concern later Tuesday night.
The meeting followed two days of intensive indirect negotiations in Cairo by two senior Israeli envoys, during which no agreement was achieved. Olmert said on Monday that the latest talks were the last chance for a deal before he leaves office.
Prior to the meeting, Noam was briefed by one of the envoys on the negotiation details, and later said that "the current government will apparently not be able to bring Gilad back" and that "the prime minister has failed in this regard."
In a letter to Olmert, Noam urged the departing premier not to abandon Gilad "despite the heavy price this entails," while noting that his son was taken away shortly after Olmert became prime minister in 2006.
Olmert's office on Monday night accused Hamas of stymying the negotiations by hardening its position and raising "extreme demands", while Hamas on Tuesday categorically rejected the accusations, stressing that the Israeli side did not present any serious offer during the latest Egypt-mediated talks.