UNITED NATIONS – Noam Shalit, the father of an Israeli soldier captured by Hamas militants more than five years ago, has called on the international community to demand that his son Gilad's immediate release be a precondition for recognition of Palestine as a UN member state.

Gilad Shalit was captured in Israel in June 2006 and has been held by Hamas in Gaza. Hamas has demanded the release of hundreds of prisoners, including many who carried out deadly attacks on Israeli civilians, in exchange for Shalit.

Noam Shalit told a news conference Thursday that he came to New York to meet with diplomats from many countries and UN officials to press for his son's release ahead of expected Palestinian moves seeking UN recognition later this month.