Netanyahu at Memorial Day Service: We Continue to Work for Shalit's Return

Speaking at a special Memorial Day address, the prime minister says efforts are constantly being made to return kidnapped and missing soldiers, 'including in ways that may be hidden from view.'

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said during a special Memorial Day address on Sunday in Jerusalem that Israel continues to work for the release of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit.

The prime minister said that Israel continues to work "every day" for the return of those soldiers who have disappeared and those that are being held captive.

Netanyahu - Avi Ohayon - May 8, 2011
Avi Ohayon

"We work every day for their return, including in ways that may be hidden from view," Netanyahu said. "We will not rest until they are returned."

Earlier Sunday, Al Jazeera reported that Hamas, the Islamist group involved in the 2006 cross-border kidnapping of Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit, had agreed to a new draft agreement for a prisoner swap deal with Israel.

During his Memorial Day address, Netanyahu also spoke about the turbulence that has swept over the Middle East in recent months.

If fallen soldiers were to be alive today, they would "see that in the passing year, a great tumult has rocked the Middle East," Netanyahu said.

"Strongholds fell, leaders fell and the turmoil has not yet come to an end. But as long as the days go by, one thing has become clearer. Israel is an isolated island of freedom, democracy and progress in a large, dark space."

Looking back on Israel's 63rd birthday, Netanyahu said the country's three greatest achievements were "the return of the power to protect the Jewish nation, construction of a glorious country, and fostering democracy like a torch illuminating the sky of the Middle East."

"We know that there is one guarantee for out existence and future: the Israel Defense Forces, the strength of the Jewish defense backed by the spirit of the people," Netanyahu said. "For generations, we dreamed of a return to Zion. Thanks to our sons and daughters, here we stand in Jerusalem."