White House: Release of Israeli soldier overdue

WASHINGTON (AP) ? White House officials say they’re pleased by the report that Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit, held for five years by Hamas, is to be freed.

Press secretary Jay Carney called the release “long overdue.” He said President Barack Obama has called many times for Schalit’s release.

Speaking during Wednesday’s White House press briefing, Carney didn’t comment on the details of Schalit’s release, which is to be accomplished via a prisoner swap that will allow 1,000 Palestinian prisoners, some convicted of murder, to go free. That’s sparked concerns about violence.

Carney said the White House focus is on getting the Palestinians and Israelis to return to direct peace talks.