MK Amir Peretz (Labor) claimed on Saturday that a deal for the release of Gilad Shalit was formulated shortly after his abduction by Hamas terrorists in June of 2006.
“Less than two weeks after the kidnapping, [former Egyptian President Hosni] Mubarak told [Prime Minister Ehud] Olmert that the deal was done and that he will be notified of Shalit’s release,” Peretz, who served as Defense Minister at the time of Shalit’s kidnapping, told the Israeli “Meet the Press” program.
The interview with Peretz took place several days after Shalit was freed in exchange for 477 terrorists who were freed from Israeli prisons. 500 additional terrorists are to be freed in the coming weeks.
“That night we appointed a special team and had ongoing contacts [with Hamas],” Peretz revealed. “There were two generals in Egypt who were in Gaza and Prime Minister Olmert told me a few days after the abduction that Mubarak has brokered a deal. In fact, there was even a set date and time for the implementation of the deal - on Friday, two weeks after the kidnapping, at four o’clock.”
“We expected to receive a message from Mubarak and then we would have gone to get Shalit, and of course we committed to release prisoners,” Peretz added. “Then something went wrong in the contacts between Egypt and Hamas. We didn’t even hesitate to hold highly confidential contacts with international bodies and officials in Syria, who went to Khaled Mashaal to find out what can be done to promote the deal.”
Peretz said that while Israel was trying to broker a deal to release Shalit, it was still looking into the possibility of launching a military operation to release him.
“We looked for a military option as if there were no negotiations and acted in negotiations as if there was no possibility of military action,” he said.
Addressing the deal reached by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for Shalit’s release, Peretz said, “Netanyahu identified a particular situation and should be praised for that. We should show our appreciation.”