In a parting message to the Israel Industrialists Association, outgoing Israel Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced his “determination” to free Israeli POW Gilad Shalit.

Ofer Dekel, appointed by the Israeli prime minister to hold indirect negotiations with Hamas for the release of the Israeli POW, left on Thursday for Cairo to hold talks with Director of Egyptian Intelligence General Omar Suleiman.

Mr. Dekel was directed to relay an updated Israeli proposal to the Egyptians.

The new proposal represents an addendum to the Israeli proposal recently relayed to Hamas with the goal of bringing about a breakthrough in the negotiations to release the kidnapped soldier. As part of this proposal, as revealed by Yediot Ahronot, Israel relayed to Hamas a list with the names of hundreds of murder convicts – including “heavy” convicts – out of which Hamas was asked to choose about half.

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It was possible to discern great tension in the political establishment over the negotiations for the release of the kidnapped soldier. Prime Minister Olmert held a consultation on Wednesday with the Israeli security establishment leaders on the Shalit issue. This consultation joins the feverish talks taking place in the Prime Minister’s Bureau since the beginning of the week.

In an interview with Israel Channel Two on Wednesday night, Mr. Olmert said he believed that the chances of completing the deal for Cpl. Shalit’s release in the days left in his term were greater than the chances that the deal be completed by the next government under Benjamin Netanyahu, which will be dependent on the “hard-line parties,” in the words of Mr. Olmert.

However, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said Wednesday night in a talk with reporters that there was nothing new in the talks to release the Israeli POW.

“There are a lot of ideas and proposals being raised, but you can’t say there is progress,” he said. However, he said he hoped that “in the next few days, there will be an interesting breakthrough.”

David Bedein can be reached at


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David Bedein
David Bedein is an MSW community organizer and an investigative journalist.   In 1987, Bedein established the Israel Resource News Agency at Beit Agron to accompany foreign journalists in their coverage of Israel, to balance the media lobbies established by the PLO and their allies.   Mr. Bedein has reported for news outlets such as CNN Radio, Makor Rishon, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, BBC and The Jerusalem Post, For four years, Mr. Bedein acted as the Middle East correspondent for The Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. Bedein has covered breaking Middle East negotiations in Oslo, Ottawa, Shepherdstown, The Wye Plantation, Annapolis, Geneva, Nicosia, Washington, D.C., London, Bonn, and Vienna. Bedein has overseen investigative studies of the Palestinian Authority, the Expulsion Process from Gush Katif and Samaria, The Peres Center for Peace, Peace Now, The International Center for Economic Cooperation of Yossi Beilin, the ISM, Adalah, and the New Israel Fund.   Since 2005, Bedein has also served as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research.   A focus of the center's investigations is The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In that context, Bedein authored Roadblock to Peace: How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict - UNRWA Policies Reconsidered, which caps Bedein's 28 years of investigations of UNRWA. The Center for Near East Policy Research has been instrumental in reaching elected officials, decision makers and journalists, commissioning studies, reports, news stories and films. In 2009, the center began decided to produce short movies, in addition to monographs, to film every aspect of UNRWA education in a clear and cogent fashion.   The center has so far produced seven short documentary pieces n UNRWA which have received international acclaim and recognition, showing how which UNRWA promotes anti-Semitism and incitement to violence in their education'   In sum, Bedein has pioneered The UNRWA Reform Initiative, a strategy which calls for donor nations to insist on reasonable reforms of UNRWA. Bedein and his team of experts provide timely briefings to members to legislative bodies world wide, bringing the results of his investigations to donor nations, while demanding reforms based on transparency, refugee resettlement and the demand that terrorists be removed from the UNRWA schools and UNRWA payroll.   Bedein's work can be found at: and A new site,, will be launched very soon.