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Sunday, June 01, 2008

One good 'gesture' deserves another

Israel made a 'gesture' to Hezbullah today by 'deporting' convicted Hezbullah spy Nassim Nisr to Lebanon after six years in an Israeli jail. Born in Lebanon to a Jewish mother (who converted to Islam) and a Muslim father, Nisr had used his mother's Jewishness to obtain Israeli citizenship and had spied here for Hezbullah. He leaves behind an ex-wife (and a 10-year old child by her) and his current wife (and a 10-year old child - hmm - and a 7-year old child by her).

In return (or maybe not in return) Hezbullah returned 'body parts' of Israeli soldiers that it had been holding since the Second Lebanon War in the summer of 2006.
As convicted Hizbullah spy Nasim Nisr returned to Lebanon from Israel on Sunday, Hizbullah announced that it had transferred to Israel remains of IDF soldiers who fell in the Second Lebanon War.

Senior Hizbullah official, Wafik Safa, made the announcement live on Hizbullah's Al-Manar television as he stood next to a brown box which he said contained the remains. Nisr stood next to Safa as he spoke.

An Israeli security official confirmed that the remains were being transferred back to Israel. He said Hizbullah had agreed to turn over the remains as a "gesture" and the move was not coordinated with Israel.

Helge Kvam, a Red Cross spokesman in Jerusalem, called Hezbollah's move a "complete surprise."

Defense officials said that Hizbullah had committed itself to returning the body parts in discussion with German mediator Gerhard Konrad.

The transfer on Sunday was a step toward the final prisoner swap that would include captive soldiers Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, continued the officials.

The transfer assisted in building trust and could lead to the completion of a prisoner swap for Regev and Goldwasser sooner than planned, they said.

The parts transferred strengthen claims made by Nisr's lawyer Smadar Ben Natan that her client's return to Lebanon was one component of a larger prisoner swap with Hizbullah, which would include the return of IDF reservists Ehud Golwasser and Eldad Regev and the longest-serving Lebanese prisoner in Israel, convicted killer Samir Kuntar.

The casket delivered by Hizbullah has undergone an initial inspection by forensic experts from the IDF and Israel Police, and will be transferred later in the day to the Institute of Forensic Medicine at Abu Kabir.

Head of IDF Human Resources, Maj.-Gen. Elazar Stern has appointed a special team of officers to coordinate IDF activities with regards to the body parts and to maintain contact with the bereaved families.

Government officials have denied any connection between the two deals and Hizbullah has not commented on the issue. Nevertheless, as Nisr was on his way to the northern border, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier headed to Beirut to discuss a possible prisoner swap deal.
We'll come back to that other exchange in a moment, but in the meantime, I have two videotapes for you. The first is an al-Beeb report on the entire exchange and the second is a raw report (except to those who understand Arabic) of the 'celebrations' in Lebanon that was shown on Israel's Channel 10.

Let's go to the videotapes.

Here's the second video.

As far as that wider exchange goes, Israelis overwhelmingly support trading the murderer Kuntar for Goldwasser and Regev - but only if Goldwasser and Regev are alive. If they are not alive, most Israelis oppose the trade. So far, Hezbullah has refused to say which it is.
Assuming that Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev are alive and held by Hezbollah, do you support a swap with Hezbollah according to which Israel releases Samir Kuntar in exchange?
Total: Support 77% Oppose 9% Other 14%
Kadima voters: Support 80% Oppose 11% Other 9%
Likud voters: Support 73% Oppose 17% Other 10%
Labor voters: Support 90% Oppose 5% there 5%

Assuming that Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev are not alive, do you support a swap with Hezbollah according to which Israel releases Samir Kuntar in exchange?
Total: Support 43% Oppose 51% Other 6%
Kadima voters: Support 39% Oppose 56% Other 5%
Likud voters: Support 34% Oppose 66%
Labor voters; Support 59% Oppose 39% there 2%
Given these stark poll results, I find it hard to believe the government will make the trade without verifying that the two are alive. As many of you know, I have long believed they are dead. Then again, this is the Olmert-Barak-Livni-Yishai government, so anything is possible.


At 6:44 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 6:45 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Anything is possible. I'm disgusted though the traitor was allowed to walk out of the country alive. He should have been hanged but what does the Israeli government care about treason and disloyalty? Thar's been fashionable in Israel for a long time now.


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