Daily Israel Report

Schalits Demand Gov't Pressure PA For Gilad's Release

Test case for Abbas? Schalit's parents demand gov't pressure the PA for their son's release following the Fatah-PA unity deal or face a lawsuit.
By Gabe Kahn.
First Publish: 5/5/2011, 12:18 AM / Last Update: 5/5/2011, 2:16 AM

Noam and Aviva Schalit sent Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Wednesday a letter threatening to turn to Israel's high court if his government does not put immediate pressure on the Palestinian Authority to free their son Gilad in the wake of the Fatah-Hamas unity agreement signed in Cairo.

A government demand to free Schalit could become a test case for Abbas who claims to want peace and asserts Hamas-Fatah unity is a positive development for the region. 

"We demand that in light of the new situation," the Schalits wrote, "The transfer of tax revenue to the Palestinian Authority be delayed until the release of Gilad, whose fate is now in the hands of the PA."

Israel's Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz has already announced Israel would suspend the transfer of tax revunues to the PA in light of the unity agreement.

The Schalits, on the advice of their attorneys Amir Kadri and Gilad Sher, wrote the cabinet that delaying a new demand for their son's release, would be "extremely unreasonable and disproportionate" and justify their seeking judicial relief from the high court.

Israel's high court, while frequently stirring controversy by involving itself in land-usage disputes under the Oslo framework, has not been involved in the controversial prisoner exchange question concerning Schalit's ransom.

The Schalits letter also asserted the Fatah-Hamas unity agreement removed all road-blocks to holding the PA directly responsible for their sons well being under International Law as a captive soldier.  

Gilad Schalit has been held captive since his abduction by Hamas terrorists in June 2006.

Kadri and Sher appeared on Israel's Channel 10 to explain their clients' motives for demanding the cabinet pressure the PA or be faced with a lawsuit.

"Gilad Schalit's abduction and captivity is a war crime and that international law demands that the PA release him and provide for his humanitarian needs," Kadri said told Channel 10.

"Even if Schalit is, mistakenly, considered a prisoner of war," Kadri elaborated, "The PA is answerable to the International treaties, primarily the Geneva Accord, and to inform us of his place of imprisonment, ensure regular visits by the Red Cross and regular contact with his family.”

The government must make it clear to the PA that upon signing the treaty, Israel saw the PA as the sole party responsible for meeting the conditions of the Geneva Accords,” Sher said during the same interview.

Earlier Wednesday, Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) head Yuval Diskin took "personal responsibility" for Israel’s failure to secure Schalit's release.

I did not succeed in securing his release – not in a military operation or through negotiations - and I see myself, as head of the Shin Bet, as the person responsible,” Diskin said. “I feel great sadness that Gilad is not with us.”

Diskin descibed Schalit's abduction as a tactical event that had strategic ramifications for Israel.

Noam Schalit characterized Diskin's remarks as "too little, too late."