JERUSALEM (JTA) – The Anti-Defamation League criticized the French foreign minister for weakening Israel’s negotiating position on kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit.
Bernard Kouchner, in an interview with the London-based Arabic newspaper Asharq al-Awsat, said he opposes Israel’s decision to make the opening of Gaza border crossings contingent on the release of Shalit. He made similar remarks in the Feb. 20 edition of the Israeli daily Ha’aretz.
Shalit, a dual Israeli and French citizen, was captured nearly three years ago in a cross-border raid.
The ADL made its criticism in a letter Monday addressed to French President Nicholas Sarkozy, who has intervened with Syrian President Bashar Assad on Shalit’s behalf. Sarkozy has called Shalit’s case a matter of personal interest, and arranged for proof that Shalit is still alive and an exchange of letters between the soldier and his father, Noam.
"President Sarkozy has demonstrated in words and actions that Gilad Shalit’s release is a priority for France," said Abraham Foxman, ADL’s national director. "Kouchner’s statement undermines and weakens Israel’s negotiating position on Shalit, and contradicts President Sarkozy’s principled approach to gain freedom for Shalit, an Israeli and French citizen."