Prime Minister Olmert: No more concessions to Hamas for Gilead Shalit

Outgoing prime minister Ehud Olmert stated in a dramatic address to the nation Tuesday night, March 17, that Israel’s final offer to release many hundreds of convicted prisoners, including terrorists guilty of murdering many Israelis, had been spurned.
That was it, he said; the list is final. Any more would cross a red line and hazard Israel’s national security.
Hamas spokesmen responded: We can wait for Binyamin Netanyahu [the PM-designate who is due to establish a new government within days]. They threatened to kidnap more Israeli soldiers to secure the release of jailed Palestinians.
Olmert spoke after a special cabinet meeting heard Shin Bet director Yuval Diskin and emissary on prisoners Ofer Dekel, explain the breakdown of the Cairo negotiations they held through Egyptian go-betweens for the release of Gilead Shalit, the Israeli soldier held by Hamas for three years.
The Palestinian radical group is demanding that 1,500 convicted terrorists be freed, including 450 hard-case multiple murderers. Israel has offered to free 325 hard-cases, of whom 144 must be exiled to the Gaza Strip or abroad, for fear their presence on the West Bank will re-ignite the Palestinian suicide terror industry which Israel put down three years ago.
debkafile‘s Middle East sources add: A phone call from Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak encouraged Olmert to embark on this last-ditch effort to secure the captive soldier’s release. On his way out of office, he has been besieged by rallies protesting his failure to restore Shalit to his family. Mubarak informed him Assad had ordered Hamas to marginally ease their demands. The prime minister’s envoys found they had been misled.

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