Rassegna Stampa Elezioni Israeliane 2009

Monitoraggio attraverso i media internazionali delle elezioni in Israele del Febbraio 2009

As Olmert’s Time in Office Nears End, Captive Soldier’s Saga Gains Urgency

Posted by gaetanoditommaso su 9 marzo, 2009

JERUSALEM — For the family of the captive Israeli soldier Cpl. Gilad Shalit, the waning days of the Olmert government represent a time of dwindling hope and growing despair.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has as little as two weeks left in office as his probable successor tries to form a new government. By then, Corporal Shalit, who turned 22 in captivity, will have been a hostage of Hamas for about 1,000 days.

The parents and friends of Corporal Shalit are pressing Mr. Olmert to clear his desk, and his conscience, by reaching an 11th-hour deal for the soldier’s return.

“We think there is still a last chance before the prime minister ends his term,” Noam Shalit, Corporal Shalit’s father, said Sunday as he and the rest of his family began a sit-in at a protest tent near the prime minister’s residence in Jerusalem.

“With a new government we do not know what will happen,” he said. “They could do a reset and start another three-year nightmare.”

The Shalit saga has gripped the Israeli soul. In a small country where 18-year-olds are conscripted into the army, complete strangers feel intimately connected with the Shalits. But people here also remember the names of youths who were blown up on buses by terrorists, and they are debating the morality of releasing those convicted of such attacks in exchange for Corporal Shalit, part of a list of prisoners Hamas wants freed.

On Sunday, across the street from the Shalits’ protest tent, families of terrorism victims began a vigil of their own. They set up placards on the sidewalk outside the former Café Moment, where a Palestinian suicide bomber blew himself up about seven years ago, killing 11 Israelis and wounding 54.

One of those opposing the release of the convicted Palestinians is Yossi Mendellevich, an engineer whose son Yuval died at the age of 13 in a bus bombing in Haifa in March 2003.

“For a father to bury a boy of 13 and a half — it should be the other way round,” Mr. Mendellevich said. “His voice was changing, he was getting the beginnings of a mustache, and he got killed in a most brutal way.”

Mr. Mendellevich argues that Israel has not fully examined other options for freeing Corporal Shalit.

“It is clear that if Gilad Shalit was my son, I’d be ready to give back Tel Aviv,” he said. “But we have to also think of the parents of the kids who could yet be killed by those to be released.”

Corporal Shalit was seized from Israeli territory by Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups in a cross-border raid and was dragged into Gaza, wounded, in June 2006. He has been allowed no visits by the Red Cross. The last sign that he is alive was a handwritten letter to his parents last June.

Despite the pain involved, many Israelis across the political spectrum seem ready to release the Palestinian prisoners to secure his return.

“From a personal perspective,” said Yael Barkai, 52, a teachers’ trainer and a mother of four from Pardes Hanna in northern Israel, “everyone here has or had or will have a child in the army, or a cousin or a nephew or niece.”

Ms. Barkai said she and her sister, Ruthi, 48, were bothered by Corporal Shalit’s fate, to the point of dreaming about it at night. Feeling the need to do something, they decided to set up the Jerusalem protest tent six months ago.

The sisters e-mailed their friends, who passed the message on. Within five hours, Ms. Barkai said, they had replies from 300 Israelis prepared to sit in the tent in two-hour shifts from morning to night, seven days a week.

With Israel balking at releasing all the prisoners on the Hamas list and negotiations apparently stuck, members of the Shalit family came from their small Galilee village to join the volunteers on the sidewalk here in a last-ditch attempt to get their son freed.

Drivers honked their horns in solidarity, and children passing by in fancy dress costumes for the Purim holiday joined in a chant.

Mr. Olmert spoke out over the weekend against the public displays of sympathy for Corporal Shalit, saying they only raised Hamas’s expectations and raised the price for his release.

But that did not stop a 15-year-old girl from Tel Aviv, who gave her name as Shir, from showing up at the tent on Sunday to show her support; nor Yehudit Mahlu, 72, from the Negev Desert city of Beersheba; nor Yaakov Milo, 57, from a village near Eilat, at Israel’s southernmost point.

“Three years is enough,” Mr. Milo said. “Otherwise, we’ll end up with another Ron Arad.”

Mr. Milo was referring to an Israeli airman whose plane was shot down over Lebanon in 1986. Mr. Arad was taken alive, but negotiations for his release collapsed in 1988. He never came back.

Indictment Looms for Ex-Leader

JERUSALEM — Israel’s attorney general announced plans on Sunday to indict the country’s former president, Moshe Katsav, on charges of rape and indecent assault against women who worked for him when he was the tourism minister and president.

Mr. Katsav, who stepped down from the presidency in mid-2007, first faced an accusation of indecent assault in 2006 when he said he was being blackmailed by a former female employee. After her story was made public, other women came forward and the case grew more serious with the addition of the rape charge. Mr. Katsav then struck a plea bargain under which he would pay compensation and admit his guilt to the lesser charges in exchange for the dropping of the rape charge.

But in a turnaround in April, he pulled out of the deal, saying he preferred to stand trial. The original charges have now been restored.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/09/world/middleeast/09israel.html?_r=1&ref=world

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