Olmert fires negotiator Gilad


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert fired his chief negotiator with Egypt for a Hamas cease-fire and to free Gilad Shalit.

Amos Gilad was removed in the wake of an interview published Feb. 18 in the daily Ma’ariv in which he criticized the government’s decision to link Shalit’s release with Israel opening its border crossings with Gaza.

His removal, which Olmert announced Monday, comes a day after the prime minister’s office filed a disciplinary complaint with the Civil Services Commission against him based on the newspaper interview.

Gilad called the decision on the Shalit-border linking an insult to Egypt that undermines national security.

"Due to the inappropriate public criticism leveled by Gilad, he cannot continue as the prime minister’s envoy to any political negotiations," Olmert’s office said in a statement released Monday.

The Defense Ministry said Monday that Gilad will continue to work with foreign officials, including the Egyptians, since he can only officially be dismissed by Defense Minister Ehud Barak. The ministry said "Israel will suffer the consequences" of Olmert’s decision.

Gilad has refused to apologize for his remarks.

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