Former Shin Bet head and Security Cabinet member Minister Ami Ayalon (Labor-Meimad) said Saturday that the IDF cannot launch a rescue operation to recover kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit at this time due to "intelligence failure."
Ayalon was the guest of Kibbutz Moledet, in northern Israel. He addressed the residents' questions regarding the efforts made on behalf of Shalit, saying "We simply do not have the sufficient intelligence at this time. that is the only thing preventing us from going ahead with a rescue right now."
Ayalon went on to criticize the government's policy regarding the release of Palestinian prisoners: "Shalit is the Palestinians' captive because we uphold certain moral codes. we have to be pragmatic and take another look at the prisoners released.
"Palestinian prisoners should no be held as bargaining chips, but we have to rethink the release criteria," he added.
As for IDF operations in Gaza, Ayalon said he is against going too far: Israel should be doing whatever it can to negotiate with Hamas and have them stop firing Qassams as Sderot.
"We are doing everything morally within our power to free Gilad Shalit and we have to so the same to make sure the shootings stop," he said.
Despite these efforts, he explained, Hamas will not be considered a negotiating partner until it recognizes Israel's right to exist and the two-state solution.
Ayalon further spoke of Ehud Barak's leadership of the Labor party, saying "we have a long way to go before we can win en election."
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