Report: Netanyahu Asks Bill Clinton to Mediate Shalit Release

Prime Minister reportedly suggests that former U.S. president visit Gaza, speak with Hamas officials.


Bill Clinton
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked former U.S. president Bill Clinton to help mediate the release of captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, the Palestinian news agency Ma'an reported Sunday.

During his recent visit to Washington, Netanyahu met with the former U.S. leader and proposed that the latter visit Gaza and negotiate with senior Hamas officials in efforts to finalize a prisoner exchange deal that would see hundreds of Palestinian prisoners freed from Israeli jails in exchange for Shalit.

Shalit was captured by Gaza militants in 2006 and has been held by Hamas for over four years.

According to Ma'an, the Hamas government of Gaza has received no information on Clinton's potential visit, but Gaza Foreign Ministry undersecretary Ahmed Yousef told journalists on Saturday that Hamas "welcomes every effort to expose Israeli crimes against the population of Gaza.”

“The government is open to the world through contact with Western officials, who are well briefed on the suffering of the Palestinian people,” he added.

Meanwhile, dozens of people flocked to a protest tent set up by Noam and Aviva Shalit, Gilad's parents, in Jerusalem on Saturday. The family set up the protest tent at the culmination of a 12-day protest march from their home in the Galilee to the prime minister's residence in Jerusalem, and vowed to demonstrate outside the weekly cabinet meetings until the Israel Defense Forces soldier was free.