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Sunday, September 17, 2006

DEBKAfile: Shalit's parents received handwritten note from him

DEBKAfile is reporting that kidnapped IDF Corporal Gilad Shalit's parents have received a note from him in his own handwriting:
“Dear parents,” said the note in Hebrew. “I am in good condition and am treated okay. I am asking for an early response to the fair and just demands of the resistance organizations so that I can come home quickly.”
Unfortunately, this does not mean that Shalit will go free tomorrow. It is the first step in a long negotiating process, which currently has two hangups:

1. The 'Palestinians' are still demanding a lot more for his release than Israel is willing to pay.

2. Shalit has become a pawn in the internal machinations between Hamas and Fatah over their 'unity government.'
With regard to the kidnapped soldier, the internal Palestinian deal provides for his release to occur simultaneously with a “small Israeli gesture” to set free Hamas politicians and lawmakers, followed by a second round of 300-400 Palestinian minors and women.

Israel rejects these terms. Since receiving the soldier’s note to his parents, Israel is saying: Now we know he is alive, we can enter into negotiations on the terms of his release. Prime minister Ehud Olmert has informed the mediators that the number of Palestinians whose release is demanded is unrealistic.

DEBKAfile’s Palestinian sources add: Even if Olmert was ready to go along with Palestinian demands, Shalit would still not be freed because he is now a card in Fatah-Hamas discussions on their power-sharing guidelines. One big obstacle aside from the allocation of portfolios is Hamas’s demand for majority representation in the Palestinian Liberation Organization and its institutions commensurate with its share in the Palestinian parliament.

Abbas objects. He has also been informed that President Bush is absolutely opposed to the unity government because the emerging guidelines do not meet all Quartet demands for Hamas to not only to recognize Israel and renounce violence but also to accept previous Palestinian-Israeli accords, including the 1993 Oslo framework. Hamas is not willing to go further than to “take them into consideration.” It the unity government is scuttled by American objections, the chances of gaining Gilead Shalit’s freedom will correspondingly recede.
While it is good to hear that Shalit is alive, I see nothing in this report that is a cause for optimism about his release. It is very unlikely that Hamas will accept Israel's 'right to exist' anytime soon, and I don't see Abu Mazen giving Hamas control of the 'unity government' even if it eventually happens.


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