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Inside Story Behind Deal for Gilad Shalit’s Release

The dramatic cabinet meeting planned to discuss the details of a deal to release abducted IDF soldier Gilad Shalit was convened Tuesday evening after a breakthrough in talks geared at Gilad Shalit’s release over the past few days, in negotiations held in Cairo and mediated by Egyptian and German officials.

Netanyahu and his top ministers, known as the Forum of Eight, help two secret, lengthy meetings in the last two days in which ministers were updated of the deal’s details.

David Meidan, the top Israeli official in charge of Shalit talks, has been spending the last few days in Cairo, contemporaneously with senior officials in Hamas’ military wing. Both sides agreed to show flexibility one last time in order to seal the deal.

On Sunday, Netanyahu convened an eight-hour Forum of Eight meeting which lasted until 4 A.M., a meeting the very existence of which was placed under gag order. Ministers who attended the meeting refused to reveal any of the issues discussed.

On Monday, the diplomatic-security cabinet was assembled to discuss the details of a possible Shalit prisoner exchange deal.

Despite all of those meetings, Netanyahu insisted on the deal being approved in the widest cabinet forum possible. At 6 P.M. Tuesday, ministers received a message informing them of an emergency meeting.

Some of the ministers were not even informed as to the subject of the meeting, with Netanyahu personally calling others to update them and ask for their support as the deal comes to be approved by the government.

The PM told those ministers that if the deal would fail to pass in the cabinet now, the whole move to release Shalit could go down the drain, conceivably postponing his release by many years.

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