Ahiya Raved
April 21, 2011 - 12:00am

Zvi Shalit, grandfather of captive soldier Gilad Shalit, has expressed protest over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's publicized meeting with the soldier's parents. "You, Mr, Netanyahu are using my son and daughter-in-law with cruel cynicism to convey a sense of action when in fact nothing has been done to save my grandson," he wrote in a letter to Netanyahu.

Shalit was addressing a meeting held earlier this week between Netanyahu and Noam and Aviva Shalit during which the prime minister informed the couple of the appointment of Mossad official David Meidan as Israel's negotiator in efforts to release their son.

The grandfather, who has previously leveled harsh criticism against the prime minister and his predecessor Ehud Olmert, noted that Netanyahu had once impeded a deal to release his grandson.

In the letter sent to the prime minister's bureau, Shalit wrote: "Whenever the media gives new focus for the issue of returning my grandson, you invite my son Noam and my daughter-in-law Aviva to pointless meetings which result in anguish.

"You host them in your living room with your wife present as it were a meeting of friends, when in fact you are using them with cruel cynicism while nothing is being done to save my grandson.

"Your refusal then and now to grant the request of former security officials to free Gilad at the stipulated price is equal to a death sentence for Gilad. My grandson was a healthy young man when he was captured at the age of 19. If he dies in Gaza it, will be a long agonizing death. "

Shalit further added: "Can you imagine a situation where you refused to pay a price for your son's life and let him die? If you tell me this question is not politically-correct I would ask you whether it is politically- correct to refuse returning my grandson alive, when we paid for soldiers' bodies with live terrorists."

'Our door is always open'

The prime minister's bureau said in response that Netanyahu is in constant contact with the Shalit family. "The door of the entire Netanyahu family is always open to Noam and Aviva and we ache together with them," a statement said.

"Alongside the commitment to return Gilad, the prime minister is also responsible for the wellbeing of Israel's citizens. Experience shows that dozens of Israelis have been killed in terror attacks carried out by terrorists released in previous deals and therefore Netanyahu is adamant that any deal would not jeopardize Israeli citizens, and that dangerous terrorists would not be released to Judea and Samaria."

It was further stated that efforts to return Shalit safe and sound are ongoing. "More than a year has elapsed since Israel presented Hamas with its last offer, but it has yet to receive a response. This shows the other side is not willing to end negotiations which would see Gilad home. Meanwhile, Israel continues to chase after those responsible for Shalit's abduction."

On Wednesday, the Prime Minister's Office denied reports that a new European mediator has replaced Germany's Gerhard Konrad in efforts to free Shalit.


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