Shalit's father: U.S. holding up swap

JERUSALEM, Feb. 19 (UPI) -- The father of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit says the United States is delaying a prisoner exchange that would free his son.

Noam Shalit spoke Thursday with U.S. Jewish leaders in Israel for the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, The Jerusalem Post reported. He said the Obama administration fears that the proposed exchange would weaken Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.


Sgt. Gilad Shalit was captured four years ago during a raid by Palestinian militants across the border from Gaza. He is being held by Hamas.

Shalit said he was also upset about a letter signed by 54 Democrats in Congress urging Israel to relax its Gaza boycott.

"Israel does not intend to ease the blockade until the prisoner exchange will be implemented," Shalit said. "I am appealing to you, dear leaders of the U.S. community, to bring it up in all your dialogue with the U.S. administration, congressmen, representatives from all over the world. Do not let up until our son regains the freedom taken from him four years ago."

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