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Sunday, March 01, 2009

Olmert family member passed messages from Hamas about Shalit?

London's Sunday Observer reports that a member of the Olmert family passed messages from Hamas to Prime Minister Ehud K. Olmert regarding kidnapped IDF corporal Gilad Shalit. The go-between for the messages (and apparently the source for the article) was Gershom Baskin, a known Israeli leftist.

According to the article, contacts were initiated by Baskin three times since Shalit was kidnapped in June 2006. The first time was shortly after the kidnapping and Israel responded that it did not negotiate with terrorists. The second contact was about a year later, at which time Hamas said that it was not willing to link Shalit's release to a 'cease fire' and an easing of Israel's blockade of Gaza. The third contact was just before the beginning of Operation Cast Lead (which is now being referred to in Israel as Operation Crumbled Lead - it sounds better in Hebrew), and Israel rejected the contact because it had already decided to go to war.

There is no shortage of Olmert family members who could have close contacts with Baskin. Olmert's wife (pictured above with him) is a member in good standing of Women in Black, a group of women that demonstrates against the 'occupation' every Friday outside the Prime Minister's residence. Daughter Dana is a member of Machsom Watch, which harasses IDF soldiers at checkpoints in Judea and Samaria. In 2006, she was part of a demonstration outside the home of then IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz that called Halutz a murderer. Olmert's two sons live in New York and Paris, respectively. Another possibility is Olmert's nephew, Yair Olmert, an attorney who lives in Israel and who was interviewed (not about this) on Israel Radio last week, but who apparently voted for the Likud in the recent election.

For those who want to read this bizarre story, it is here. I suspect that a lot of it has been embellished by Baskin and that it isn't quite what the article stacks it up to be.


At 6:55 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

I fnd the story hard to credit given that Hamas won't talk to Israel. If they were ready to change their ideology its not indicated by the story and that's presumably why the feelers went nowhere, if true. Ehud Olmert would have liked to see a genuine change on the part of Hamas but even he didn't think on the basis of whatever information he received, that it was in the offing. FWIW, the terrorist group still holds Shalit.

At 4:20 AM, Blogger Duncan said...

Maybe Hamas' perception (rightly or wrongly) is that they captured an Israeli P.O.W. within Gaza? Nethertheless, it is their duty to look after Gilad Shalit according to the appropriate Geneva Conventions.

Will Ehud Olmert now appear on Israeli TV and publicly deny that there had been any [attempted] contact with him (directly or indirectly) from Hamas?

Will Baskin now be kidnapped like Vanunu for spilling the beans to a British Sunday newspaper?


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