Gilad Shalit's release: in pictures

Prisoner swap deal between Israel and Palestine gets underway.

Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier imprisoned by Hamas militants in 2006, has been handed over to Egyptian mediators after being held in Gaza for five years. He will then be transferred to the Kerem Shalom crossing between Egypt and Israel.

To secure the 25 year old's release, Israel has agreed to free more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners being held in Israel. The first 477 are being released today, with a further 550 freed at a later date.

While Shalit is undergoing medical tests before being taken back to Israel, these 477 prisoners are being driven to Israel, destined either for return to Gaza or exile abroad. Hamas is preparing a hero's welcome for the 295 prisoners returning to Gaza.

Israeli families of victims of terrorist attacks appealed to the Israeli Supreme Court to delay the swap, but the bid was rejected.

Samira Shackle is a freelance journalist, who tweets @samirashackle. She was formerly a staff writer for the New Statesman.

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Michael Gove definitely didn't betray anyone, says Michael Gove

What's a disagreement among friends?

Michael Gove is certainly not a traitor and he thinks Theresa May is absolutely the best leader of the Conservative party.

That's according to the cast out Brexiteer, who told the BBC's World At One life on the back benches has given him the opportunity to reflect on his mistakes. 

He described Boris Johnson, his one-time Leave ally before he decided to run against him for leader, as "phenomenally talented". 

Asked whether he had betrayed Johnson with his surprise leadership bid, Gove protested: "I wouldn't say I stabbed him in the back."

Instead, "while I intially thought Boris was the right person to be Prime Minister", he later came to the conclusion "he wasn't the right person to be Prime Minister at that point".

As for campaigning against the then-PM David Cameron, he declared: "I absolutely reject the idea of betrayal." Instead, it was a "disagreement" among friends: "Disagreement among friends is always painful."

Gove, who up to July had been a government minister since 2010, also found time to praise the person in charge of hiring government ministers, Theresa May. 

He said: "With the benefit of hindsight and the opportunity to spend some time on the backbenches reflecting on some of the mistakes I've made and some of the judgements I've made, I actually think that Theresa is the right leader at the right time. 

"I think that someone who took the position she did during the referendum is very well placed both to unite the party and lead these negotiations effectively."

Gove, who told The Times he was shocked when Cameron resigned after the Brexit vote, had backed Johnson for leader.

However, at the last minute he announced his candidacy, and caused an infuriated Johnson to pull his own campaign. Gove received just 14 per cent of the vote in the final contest, compared to 60.5 per cent for May. 


Julia Rampen is the editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog. She was previously deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines.