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Sunday, July 09, 2006

'Prisoner' swap coming?

I suspect that we are headed for a 'prisoner' swap.

The JPost is reporting that Prime Minister Olmert said in today's cabinet meeting that while he has ruled out a prisoner swap with Hamas, he has expressed willingness in the past to release Palestinian prisoners in a deal with 'moderate Palestinian leaders.' Translation: "if 'moderate Palestinian President' Mahmoud Abbas Abu Mazen is on the other side of the table, I'm willing to negotiate a 'prisoner' swap." As if the Abu Mazen led Fatah sponsored Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade is any better than Hamas. And as if the deal won't be for Hamas prisoners.

As if on cue, HaAretz is reporting that Abu Mazen has sent envoys to Damascus to meet with Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal, who is believed to be behind the kidnapping. Neither of the envoys, Taysir Khaled, an official from the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine who sits on the PLO Executive Committee, or Abdullah Khorani, an independent and former member of the executive committee, belong to Abu Mazen's Fatah movement, nor are they considered directly linked to him.

None of this is surprising. Noam Shalit, the father of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit, has been calling for 'negotiations' for several days now, arguing that “everything has a price,” and YNet even published a puff piece today trying to make us all forgive Shalit's parents for raising the subject. While that may be true, the price for kidnapped soldiers tends to be high and tends to encourage more kidnapping. As I noted last week:
According to HaAretz, the Palestinian Information Ministry said it is "natural logic" to carry out an exchange. "This has been exercised by previous Israeli governments with Hezbollah and the PLO, and this is what other countries do in conflict situations," the statement said.
If this were a prisoner exchange between two combatants ending a war, that would be one thing. But this war is ongoing. And in an ongoing war, the more times you trade for prisoners the more times prisoners will be taken. Especially when soldiers and civilians are being kidnapped specifically in the hope of trading them.

Let's hope Ehud Olmert doesn't crack under the pressure from the Shalit family and from the left (Meretz has also called for Israel to negotiate a prisoner exchange with Hamas). But I'm not betting on it.


At 3:23 AM, Blogger Harry said...

Just when it seemed Olmert was beginning to get it. It will be a calamity if it does happen.


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