British Prime Minister David Cameron. — Photo by AP

LONDON: British Prime Minister David Cameron expressed hope Tuesday that the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit after more than five years in Hamas captivity would bring peace in the region a step closer.

Cameron said people across Britain would share in the joy and relief felt by Shalit and his family after his “long, cruel and unjustified captivity”.

“I can only imagine the heartache of the last five years, and I am full of admiration for the courage and fortitude which Sergeant Shalit and his family have shown through his long cruel and unjustified captivity,” Cameron said.

“I congratulate Prime Minister (Benjamin) Netanyahu and everyone involved for bringing him home safely, and hope this prisoner exchange will bring peace a step closer.

“Britain will continue to stand by Israel in defeating terrorism. We remain strongly committed to the cause of peace in the Middle East - with Israel and a Palestinian state living side by side in security.

“We will continue to work for direct negotiations to achieve that end.”

Shalit, 25, was released under the terms of a long-awaited deal signed last week between Israel and its sworn enemy Hamas, and mediated by Egypt, in return for Israel freeing a total of 1,027 prisoners.


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