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Copyright 2001 Jerusalem Post
Jerusalem Post

January 12, 2001

HEADLINE: New York politicians promise to work for release of kidnapped Israelis in Lebanon

BYLINE: Heidi J. Gleit

A delegation of New York politicians pledged last night to work for the release of the four Israelis kidnapped by the Hizbullah.

'We pledge ourselves, when we return to the United States to do everything in our power through the Congress and the new administration [to pressure Syria, Iran, and Hizbullah to provide information about the condition of the kidnapping victims and] to secure their speedy release from captivity,' Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) declared after meeting with the families of soldiers Adi Avitan, Benny Avraham, and Omar Sawayid and businessman Elhanan Tanenbaum at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem.

The US has always stood for certain norms of conduct and it is intolerable that an organization kidnap soldiers, that it does not allow the International Red Cross to visit the captives, and that it refuses to provide any information on the condition and health of the captives, he said.

Nadler, who was accompanied by fellow congressmen Joseph Crowley and Anthony Weiner, Speaker of the New York State Assembly Sheldon Silver, and Libby Pataki, wife of New York Gov. George Pataki, described the meeting as moving and emotional.

After the families described to the group, here as guests of the Foreign Ministry, the torture they have undergone since their relatives were kidnapped in October, they discussed ways in which they could work together in Israel and the US to bring about their release.

Haim Avraham said that the entire free world must work together to pressure Hizbullah to provide information about his son Benny and his comrades.

The Foreign Ministry is providing the congressmen with blue ribbons to distribute to all of their colleagues in the House and Senate, ministry Director-General Alon Liel said. All Israeli diplomats also are being sent blue ribbons and will be instructed to wear them at all official events as a reminder of the kidnapp victims.

In addition to the campaign to keep the issue in the public's eye, there also are continuous, intensive diplomatic efforts to bring about their release, Liel said, though he declined to elaborate.

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