Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, on a tour of the south earlier in the day, said that the bodies of two Israeli soldiers being held in Gaza would not be returned, a dramatic 180-degree turn from his predecessor and other Israeli officials’ vows to bargain for the remains, Channel 10 reports.
“In my estimation, the troops’ bodies won’t come back to Israel, I don’t see it happening,” he said, according to the report. “I opposed in the past the Shalit deal as well and I don’t intend to make a deal in the future with Hamas.”
The families of Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin have lobbied for the government to secure the release of the remains of their sons, presumed killed during the 2014 war, and officials have vowed to do everything in their power to do so.
In the past, remains have often been traded in return for large numbers of Palestinian prisoners being freed, with the lopsided deals seen as the price paid for a country’s commitment to not leaving any soldier behind.
In a response to Channel 10, the Goldin family calls for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to set Liberman straight.
“A defense minister who decides to give up knowingly on returning bodies from the battlefield has no moral currency to remain as Israel’s defense minister,” the family says in a statement. “We call on the prime minister to clarify to the Israeli defense minister the government’s stance regarding returning Hadar and Oron home.”
Liberman’s office tells the channel in response that the minister’s stance against deals with Hamas has not changed.