(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)

At its meeting today (Tuesday), 15 July 2008, the Cabinet discussed the return of the soldiers who were abducted by Hizbullah in July 2006, with the main subject being Hizbullah’s report on Ron Arad. Today’s meeting followed that of 29 June 2008, at which the outline for an agreement on the release of Israel’s abducted soldiers in Lebanon was approved.

The chairman of the committee of the heads of the security services briefed ministers on the committee’s position regarding the aforesaid report.  He also analyzed the report and presented recommendations. Ofer Dekel and Ilan Biran, who dealt with the issue of the captive and missing soldiers, and Defense Ministry Security-Diplomatic Division Director Amos Gilad also presented their positions on both the deal and the Hezbollah report.

The Cabinet held a discussion and decided (22-3) as follows:

1. To ratify Decision #3690, from 29 June 2008, on the release of the abducted Israeli soldiers in Lebanon, in accordance with the parameters specified in the decision.

2. The Government of Israel adopts the position of the committee of the heads of the security services, as it was presented, regarding the credibility of the report transferred by Hizbullah on the fate of missing navigator Ron Arad, and decided to absolutely reject the report. The Government determined that the report does not meet the conditions of the agreement regarding the fate of Ron Arad.

3. The Government of Israel will continue its efforts to receive all possible information on the fate of Ron Arad.

4. The Government of Israel thanked the UN Secretary General’s mediator and the German government for the great effort they invested in formulating the arrangement for the return of the abducted soldiers. The Government of Israel expects that the German mediator will continue his activities in order to receive credible information on the fate of the missing navigator.

5. The Government will not slacken in its efforts to locate and return the abducted soldiers, the missing whose fate is unknown, and those fallen soldiers whose resting place is unknown.

 Cabinet communique: Government ratifies decision on release of the abducted soldiers

Photo of Ron Arad provided by Hizbullah in its report

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Further to its decision of 29 June 2008 approving the outline of the agreement for the release of the Israeli soldiers held hostage by Hizbullah since July 2006, the government decided on August 3, 2008 to recommend the release of five Palestinian juvenile prisoners being held in IDF and Israel Prison Authority facilities, who meet the criteria approved in the government decisions of 6 July 2003 and 27 July 2003.

The names of the prisoners to be released have been published on the Israel Prison Authority website (Hebrew). The release will commence on Wednesday August 6, 2008.