Carter: Hamas agrees to deliver new Gilad Shalit letter
In interview with Al-Jazeera, former U.S. President says he received consent of Hamas political chief Meshal to deliver first letter from the abducted IDF soldier since 2008.
Hamas agreed to pass on a letter from abducted Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit to his family, former U.S. President Jimmy Cater told the Qatar-based network Al-Jazeera on Friday, more than two years since such a missive was received by Israel.
The previous letter Hamas allowed Shalit to pass on to his family, which was also mediated by the former U.S. president, was received in June of 2008.
In it, the IDF soldier, abducted in a cross-border raid near the Gaza Strip in 2006, said he had been "dreaming of the day of my release and am looking forward to seeing you again. I hope this day will come soon, but I know it's not up to me or you."
"I call upon the government to continue negotiating my release and refrain from focusing their efforts on releasing the soldiers in Lebanon," Shalit's 2008 letter said.
On Friday, in an interview with Al-Jazeera, Carter indicated that Hamas politburo Khaled Meshal voiced his agreement to deliver a letter from Shalit to his family during a recent meeting between the two in Syria.
During a recent visit to the Gaza Strip, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle Westerwelle called on Shalit's captors to "let him go home to his family," a day after meeting Shalit's father Noam in Jerusalem.
Hamas has demanded the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli prisons in exchange for Shalit's freedom, denying the Israeli prisoner regular Reed Cross visits.
The negotiations have been stuck in recent months following the German mediator's failure to reach a deal. The previous round of talks broke down due to Israel's rejection of Hamas's demands.
Last week, Hamas' Interior Minister Fathi Hamad addressed the ongoing negotiations over the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, saying that Israel wants to complete a prisoner exchange deal "at the lowest possible price" but that eventually it will come around and pay the full price Hamas demands.