Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert postponed a Cabinet meeting scheduled for Monday as talks aimed at securing the release of a kidnapped Israeli soldier were extended.
“In light of the negotiations that are currently continuing in Cairo regarding the release of Gilad Shalit, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert decided… to postpone — by 24 hours — the Cabinet meeting,” Olmert’s office said in a statement Sunday night. The latest round of talks in Cairo had been scheduled to end Sunday night. The statement cautioned, “It should be emphasized that as of yet, there is no sign that indicates a result in any particular direction in the negotiations.” But Rafi Eitan, Israel’s minister of pensioner affairs, told Army Radio, “I assume that the outcome of the talks will be positive.” Palestinian militants, including some linked to Hamas, crossed into Israel from Gaza in June 2006 and kidnapped Shalit. Talks on a deal to release Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the release of Shalit have been ongoing through Egyptian mediation. Shalit’s parents and hundreds of supporters last week set up a protest tent outside Olmert’s house in Jerusalem and demanded that he develop a deal to release the soldier. The Shalits have moved from their home in Israel’s Galilee region to the tent across from Olmert’s home, a step designed to increase pressure on the government to get their son freed. They have vowed to stay there until Olmert ends his term as prime minister. Olmert has said that he is committed, in the time that he has left, to try to bring back Shalit. After Shalit’s capture, Israel launched a military incursion into Gaza to try to rescue him.