Netanyahu Delays European Trip

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JERUSALEM, Israel - Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu postponed visits to Paris and Rome, originally scheduled for next week.

Officials in the Prime Minister's Office said Thursday's June 3rd visit with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and the June 4th visit with French President Nicolas Sarkozy would be rescheduled in the next several weeks.

An additional stop in London to meet with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown may be added to the itinerary, the officials said.

The postponement will allow Netanyahu to focus on passing the 2009-2010 State budget in the Knesset (parliament).

The prime minister also wants to choose a new envoy to oversee negotiations for the release of IDF (Israel Defense Forces) Cpl. Gilad Shalit, who has been held captive by Hamas, the ruling Palestinian faction in the Gaza Strip.

Shalit was kidnapped on June 25, 2006, when Palestinian terrorists tunneled under the security fence near the Kerem Shalom border crossing with Gaza and attacked an IDF outpost, killing two soldiers, wounding three, and kidnapping Shalit.

Egyptian-mediated negotiations with Hamas for the corporal's release have yielded nothing thus far. Hamas is demanding up to 1,000 Palestinians prisoners in exchange for Shalit.

Source: YNet news

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