PM Tells Shalit Parents: Don't Drag My Sons Into the Debate

Netanyahus are uncomfortable with the Shalits' references to their parenthood in an effort to increase the pressure for Gilad's release.

At a meeting yesterday with members of the family of captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara complained about reference to the prime minister's sons in the campaign to free the soldier.

During the meeting, which was held at the Prime Minister's Residence with Shalit's parents, Noam and Aviva, and the participation of the government's coordinator in the case, Hagai Hadas, the Netanyahus criticized statements directed at the prime minister such as "if this were your son, what would you have done?"

The Shalit campaign refused to provide a response to the reported criticism.

The meeting with Noam and Aviva Shalit just days before Rosh Hashanah came at the prime minister's initiative and lasted about an hour and a half. Following the meeting, Noam Shalit said nothing had changed and his family would continue their vigil in the protest tent opposite the Prime Minister's Residence.

He added that the prime minister added his voice to President Shimon Peres' request that the tone of the protest be moderated, and that the Shalits leave the tent over the upcoming holidays to make things easier on themselves and conserve their strength for the post-holiday period.

Noam Shalit said Netanyahu also expressed the hope that despite the short distance between his residence and the tent that their next meeting would be held at the Shalits' Galilee home in the presence of their son Gilad.

Following the meeting, Noam Shalit also criticized the government, saying that after the lifting of the blockade on the Gaza Strip, it is left without bargaining chips for his son's release.