Belgian boy kidnapped by Israeli mom in ’06 to reunite with non-Jewish father

(JTA) — An Israeli woman who kidnapped her son while he was staying with his non-Jewish father in Belgium in 2006 gave up the boy in exchange for immunity for her accomplices.

Following the deal between Ronite Bitton and the Israel Police, her son, 17-year-old Solal Georis, was reunited last month after eight years in which she had kept him hidden from authorities in haredi Orthodox circles in Israel, the Belgian Jewish paper Regards reported Friday.

Both a Belgian and Israeli court affirmed the sole custody of Vincent Georis, of the boy after the father filed a missing persons report and accused Bitton of kidnapping him.

But the mother claimed she did not know where the boy was despite suspicions that she had accomplices hide him. An Israeli court in 2013 sentenced her to five years in prison for kidnapping. During her interrogation, she claimed that her ex-husband Vincent Georis psychologically abused and intimidated her. She also claimed he was behind the boy’s kidnapping and is accusing her of kidnapping him to divert attention from his own actions.

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A Belgian court fined Bitton for defamation against Georis, after finding these claims to be false.

Vincent Georis has made countless trips to Israel over the past eight years and hired a local detective. He also launched an appeal in Hebrew, French and Yiddish asking anyone with information of Solal to come forward.

Ultimately, though, police in Israel promised to not go after Bitton’s presumed accomplices if Bitton consented to allow the boy to remain in contact with his father, Regards reported.

Georis, who has complained f inaction by the Israel Police and has also said that the fact that he is not Jewish made them take him less seriously, approved the deal with Bitton, he told Regards.

“I accepted. I was interested in his well-being above all, even if I was shocked by this amnesty to people who kidnapped a child and denied the existence of his father,” he said.

Following the deal, Solal reported to a Jerusalem police station where DNA tests proved his identity. He and his father are to be reunited in the coming days, after not seeing each other since their last encounter at a Beersheba child services station. Solal was wearing a kippah and a suit of the kind worn by haredi Orthodox children.