Monday, March 12, 2007
"Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said Monday that Israel expects captured IDF soldier Gilad Shalit released before Hamas and Fatah form a new unity government.
She spoke after officials in Hamas were quoted as saying that the creation of the new Palestinian unity government and Shalit's release were in no way connected to one another.
Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas told Prime Minister Ehud Olmert during their meeting Sunday that he would make an effort to secure the release of Shalit as soon as possible, and perhaps before the formation of the unity government.
Livni said Abbas now had more influence on Hamas, which is keen to form a coalition with Abbas' Fatah movement.
"Abu Mazen has stated that before establishing a new Palestinian government, he wants Gilad released," Livni told Army Radio, referring to Abbas by his nickname.
"If in the past he could say that he was separate from Hamas and had no power to influence them, today his situation has changed. Today, with Hamas wishing to form a government, and, with Abu Mazen moving toward an agreement with Hamas, we expect that the release of Gilad Shalit will be part of this process."
According to Livni, "This is an Israeli demand, and I believe it should be an international demand as well. Now we must see if [Abbas} is capable of keeping this [promise]."....."
Hamas is expected not to embarrass Brothers Abu Mazen and Dahlan (guests of honor at Brother Olmert's dinner table) nor disappoint Sister Livni, by releasing Brother Shalit. This is the new and improved Hamas, after all, and what a wonderful opportunity to demonstrate political skill and pragmatism. Besides, Saudi Arabia demands it; what could be more important?
Celebrate the early release of Brother Shalit!