Noam Shalit to Olmert: Redeem Your Failures and Bring Gilad Home Before You Leave Office

Abducted soldier's father blasts state impasse on swap deal, says 'there's been plenty of time to bargain.'

Noam Shalit, father of abducted Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit, called on outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Tuesday to do everything within his powers to help free Gilad before leaving office in February.

Shalit addressed Olmert directly, saying "Now is the time to bring back Gilad so that you will not go down as the person who failed to free him. I call on the prime minister to act before it is too late."

Noam Shalit made his address as part of a conference held in Sderot on Tuesday, and urged Olmert three months before stepping down as prime minister to "do what you haven't done in the past two years."

Shalit denounced the government for its "prisoner release gestures" and for failing to conduct "serious negotiations to free Gilad."

Shalit also referred to a recent report in which former chief of staff Moshe Ya'alon was quoted as saying that Israel "needs to weigh all the options, and consider giving up on the soldiers." Shalit asked: "Where do our leaders pretend to bring this 'insight' from? What values were they raised on and in what society did they grow up?"

Asked what he thought about the "price" Israel will pay in negotiating to free his son, Shalit said: "My family never discussed a price. There was plenty of time to act in a bargain price, but nothing has been done."

Israel has recently agreed to release 220 of the 350 prisoners convicted of serious crimes whose freedom Hamas is demanding in exchange for Gilad Shalit.

This represents a significant moderation of Israel's position, as it had previously agreed to release only 150 of these prisoners. Nevertheless, the gap between the parties remains wide.

Altogether, Hamas is demanding the release of 1,400 prisoners in exchange for Shalit, of which it insists that about 450 be people convicted of serious crimes.