Noam and Aviva Shalit, the parents of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit, have urged the international Quartet of Middle East peacemakers to demand Gilad's immediate release at their meeting today.
In a letter to Tony Blair, the Quartet's envoy for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Shalits asked the Quartet to unequivocally demand Gilad's unconditional release, or "at least" to demand that Hamas, which is holding him, consent to a German mediator's proposal for a prisoner swap. That proposal, the letter noted, would also bring about the release of 1,000 Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.
The Shalits stressed that by holding Gilad hostage for more than five years without even allowing visits by the Red Cross, Hamas was guilty of a blatant war crime. The Quartet ought to demand an end to this war crime in any event, they wrote, but should especially make this a nonnegotiable condition for any recognition of a Palestinian state.
They also warned that without Gilad's release, progress on other issues dividing Israel and the Palestinians is highly unlikely.
The Quartet is comprised of the United States, United Nations, European Union and Russia.
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