The speaker of the Knesset met
Condoleezza Rice and stressed the centrality of captive soldiers in any of
Israel’s dealings with the Arabs.
Dalia Itzik launched a U.S. tour Wednesday on
behalf of soldiers captured by the Hezbollah and Hamas terrorist groups. “I
told her, releasing Gilad Shalit is a necessary component to clear the air,”
Itzik told reporters after her meeting with the U.S. secretary of state.
Shalit was captured and taken to Gaza by Hamas-allied gunmen in a June 25 raid. Two other soldiers were kidnapped by Hezbollah and taken to Lebanon the following month.
Itzik and Rice also discussed how to deal with a projected Palestinian unity
government of Hamas and Fatah. The policy is to boycott Hamas, a
terrorist group that rejects Israel’s existence, but the United States has not
yet decided how to deal with ministers belonging to the more moderate Fatah.
They also discussed the U.S. decision to participate in wider forums in Iraq with
Iranian and Syrian officials. Itzik said she was reassured that the
terrorist-backing states would not be “rewarded” for such contacts.
Itzik is also
meeting her counterpart, U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi
(D-Calif.), and Ban Ki-moon, the U.N. secretary-general.