British Jews celebrate Gilad Shalit deal

A rally for Gilad shalit in London last year

A rally for Gilad shalit in London last year

Anglo-Jewry has welcomed the news that a deal has been made to secure the release of Gilad Shalit.

The Board of Deputies of British Jews, one of the many community groups to have spent much of the last five years campaigning for the captured soldier's release, said it was fitting that "we celebrate news of Gilad Shalit's imminent release" as we prepare to celebrate Succot, the Jewish festival of rejoicing.

"For the Shalit family the Board is overjoyed, trusting that unlike on previous occasions, it [the projected relase] will come to fruition," the Board said in a statement.

"Difficult, courageous choices have been taken and we acknowledge and understand that for many this will be painful. Nevertheless, Israel has demonstrated the supreme value she places on human life.

"The Board prays for Gilad's safe and speedy return to Israel and hopes that his release will be a precursor to resumed peace talks."

The Zionist Federation said the deal, which Prime Minister Netanyahu said was a tough decision because of the scale of the swap, was "a further symbol of Israel's willingness to make painful concessions in order to achieve its dream of peace".

"We hope that this is the start of a period of renewed hope that will bring a peaceful solution to the Israeli Palestinian conflict and that positive news will be forthcoming regarding the additional six MIA's," the ZF added.

Rabbi Danny Rich, chief executive of Liberal Judaism, said everybody was thrilled at the news. "For once, Benjamin Netanyahu has made a courageous decision," he said. "The release of 1,000 Palestinians will not be universally acclaimed, but in our view can only be welcomed."

Last updated: 2:26pm, October 12 2011