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Netanyahu Trumpets Shalit Release Deal

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday thanked the ministers of his cabinet for approving the prisoner swap with Hamas that secured the release of Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit, adding that the government was ready to tackle other issues at hand.

Speaking before the weekly government meeting in Jerusalem, Netanyahu referred to the recently implemented prisoner exchange deal, saying that “last week we brought Gilad Shalit back to Israel alive and well” after more than five-and-a-half years in Hamas captivity.

“I wish to thank the ministers for sharing the load of our decision,” the premier said, adding that “now, after two weeks of extraordinary public unity, we will vigorously continue to deal with the challenges we have been facing” since he entered office more than two years ago.

Earlier Sunday, opposition leader and Kadima leader Tzipi Livni criticized the swap deal, in which 1,027 Palestinian prisoners were to be released for Shalit, saying that it bolstered Hamas and weakened the moderate Palestinian Authority.

In an interview with Israel Radio, Livni said that “Israel is losing its military deterrence,” and that the next phase of the prisoner exchange, in which another 550 Palestinian prisoners are to be released, must be “coordinated with Abbas, rather than with Hamas.

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