Lieberman Refuses to Deal With Hamas, Predicts Bodies of Fallen Soldiers Won't Be Returned

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Hadar Goldin's parents talking to the press outside the Prime Minister's Residence in Jerusalem, June 27, 2016.
Hadar Goldin's parents talking to the press outside the Prime Minister's Residence in Jerusalem, June 27, 2016.Credit: Gil Eliyahu

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman has said in recent private conversations that he doesn't believe the bodies of Israel Defense Forces soldiers 1st Lt. Hadar Goldin and Staff Sgt. Oron Shaul will be returned to Israel from the Gaza Strip

According to a report on Channel 10 TV on Monday night, Lieberman said that he does not intend doing a deal with Hamas, which is holding the bodies of the two soldiers killed during the 2014 war in Gaza.

"I don't see it happening," Lieberman is reported to have said about the return of the bodies.

The defense minister's bureau refused to respond to the report, saying that Lieberman has not commented on the issue recently.

That said, the bureau confirmed that Lieberman has always been opposed to a prisoner swap like the ones that have been conducted periodically over the years. For that reason, it said, he opposed the Gilad Shalit deal in 2011.

The minister believes that "no one should ever think that terror pays," his bureau said.

Lieberman's stance contradicts the public pronouncements of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the issue. Netanyahu has never announced what he is prepared to pay for the return of the two bodies, but he said about a month ago at a memorial ceremony marking the second anniversary of the war that he feels "a deep commitment to bringing the boys home. It is always with me. I will never stop dealing with it, even if it takes time."

Haaretz reported about two months ago that indirect negotiations with Hamas on the return of the bodies – as well as to determine the fate of Abera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed, two Israeli citizens missing in Gaza – had hit obstacles and that serious contacts between the sides had not yet begun.

In Israel's view, Hamas had set unacceptable conditions for the commencement of the talks, among them a demand for the mass release of Palestinian prisoners in Israel.

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