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Tánaiste Welcomes Announced Release of Israeli Soldier Gilad Shalit

The Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Mr. Eamon Gilmore, T.D., (who is currently on a trade mission in Japan and Korea) has welcomed the announcement that the Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, who has been held in captivity for over five years, will be released as part of a prisoner exchange deal now reached between the Israeli Government and the Hamas authorities in Gaza.

“I am very pleased that Gilad Shalit’s release from five long years of captivity in Gaza now appears imminent, as part of a wider deal which will also see 1,000 Palestinian prisoners freed. Gilad’s release and return to his family in Israel is something which all those concerned with justice and peace in the Middle East have long sought.”

“I want to commend all those involved in arriving at this agreement and, in particular, the Governments of Egypt and Germany which have played such a critical and tireless mediation role throughout Sergeant Shalit’s long captivity.”

“I earnestly hope that this deal, once implemented, will contribute to an improved political atmosphere within the region and enhance the prospects for a resumption of direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations aimed at producing a just and comprehensive peace settlement, based on the two-State solution, and within the timeframe outlined in the Quartet’s statement of 23 September.”

“This is precisely the kind of positive confidence-building measure which is so urgently required at present in the Middle East. I urge both sides to build on this and desist from taking any provocative actions which work against an early return to direct peace talks. I also hope that Gilad Shalit’s release will expedite a more positive attitude on the part of the Israeli authorities towards Gaza and, in particular, an end to the unjustified blockade of the Gaza Strip and its population.”