Israel to Exchange 1,000 Palestinian Prisoners for One Israeli Soldier
Israel and Hamas announced an agreement to exchange more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners for an Israeli soldier held captive in Gaza for five years - Staff Sgt. Gilad Shalit. In Damascus, Khaled Meshal, the political leader of Hamas, called the deal "a national accomplishment" for the Palestinians, who he said hoped to "cleanse the land, and liberate Jerusalem." Thousands poured into the streets in Gaza and the West Bank in celebration.
(New York Times)
Israel Approves Agreement for Release of Gilad Shalit
The Israeli Cabinet approved the agreement for the release of Gilad Shalit by a vote of 26 to 3. Prime Minister Netanyahu told the Cabinet: "I believe that we have reached the best deal we could have at this time, when storms are sweeping the Middle East. I do not know if in the near future we would have been able to reach a better deal or any deal at all." "I am happy that I succeeded in fulfilling the Jewish decree of redeeming captives....The Nation of Israel is a unique people. We are all mutually responsible for each other."
(Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Anatomy of a Deal -Ron Ben-Yishai
The fate of the talks was in the hands of Egypt's military rulers. Israeli officials were gravely concerned that this regime could lose its ability to serve as mediator within a few months and come under the Muslim Brotherhood's influence. This is the "window of opportunity" officials in Jerusalem spoke of. This window could have been closed, given further upheaval in the Arab world.
Hamas Boosted, Fatah Weakened by Deal -Yaakov Lappin
Hamas will be significantly boosted by the Shalit deal. Hamas has been able to force Jerusalem to negotiate with it as an equal partner, and has achieved the release of a large number of terrorists - some of whom were sentenced to life terms for personally murdering Israeli civilians.
This is bad news for the Fatah government in Ramallah. Fatah's grip on power in the West Bank is likely more shaky than meets the eye. The Shalit deal will be used by Hamas to claim that it is the most effective representative of the Palestinians. Images of freed Palestinian prisoners will likely convince many Palestinians that Hamas is right.
Hamas Steals Abbas Thunder with Prisoner Deal -Tom Perry
Hamas has jumped back into the Middle East spotlight with a prisoner swap deal with Israel that will score points over President Abbas and steal some of the thunder he generated by pushing for Palestinian statehood at the UN. "Hamas proves again that it has cards and they can pull them out at the speed of light," said Zakaria al-Qaq, a Palestinian political commentator. "It's about scoring goals. It isn't a matter of elections, it's about credibility."
Talal Okal, a Gaza-based commentator, said: "This has restored the shine to Hamas." "The Hamas movement is sending a message: that negotiations are not worth it, and its method, resistance, is the one that produces results."
Strategic Notes on the Gilad Shalit Prisoner Exchange -Barry Rubin
Hamas did a politically clever thing by demanding that half of the named prisoners be non-Hamas people. The goal is to make Hamas more popular among Fatah supporters and on the West Bank.
A Victory for Israeli Solidarity -Ari Shavit
There are many good reasons to oppose the deal for the release of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit. The deal is a surrender by Israel to terror. It will empower extremists, spur Hamas on and weaken the PA. It will increase the risk of Israeli soldiers being kidnapped in the future. The deal will strengthen the feeling that sensitivity to human life is Israel's Achilles' heel. The deal that saves the life of Gilad Shalit could cost the lives of many Israelis whose names and faces we do not yet know.
Yet, there is one decisive reason to support the deal: Israeli solidarity. Israel's main asset in human and security terms is the sense of mutual responsibility that its citizens and soldiers feel toward one another. Rightly or not, Shalit has become a symbol of mutual responsibility and his release will be the realization of Israeli solidarity. Only with time will we know what the proper balance was between what was correct and what was dangerous in the deal to release Shalit.
Israel Had No Choice But to Save Shalit -Jonathan S. Tobin
The Shalit deal will undoubtedly come back to haunt Israel, letting 1,000 Palestinians, including convicted mass murderers, go free. Objectively viewed, the decision makes no sense because the only winner here is Hamas, whose prestige will soar.
But all that pales in comparison to the overwhelming sentiment among Israelis that Shalit cannot be allowed to rot in captivity if there is a chance he might be ransomed. Israelis will rue the price of that ransom, but also take some perverse satisfaction in the fact they value the life of one Jew as being worth that of 1,000 Arab terrorists and killers.
The Reasons for Hamas' "Flexibility" on Shalit Swap -Herb Keinon
At Tuesday's cabinet meeting, the ministers were presented with three reasons for Hamas' "flexibility."
The weakened position of Syria, where Hamas has its headquarters, means it needed to start worrying about where it can move. Finding another host country, according to assessments in Jerusalem, might be more complicated as long as it continued to hold Shalit.
The cabinet was also told that the changes in Egypt have had a huge impact on Hamas, giving the Egyptians a degree of leverage over the organization that President Hosni Mubarak never had. Egypt pressed Hamas to moderate its position, and Hamas responded.
Finally, the cabinet was told that Israel's recent stiffening of the prison conditions for security prisoners also had an impact.
A pact signed in Jewish blood -Caroline Glick
It is a statistical certainty that the release of 1,027 terrorists for Schalit will lead to the murder of untold numbers of Israelis. It has happened every single time that these blood ransoms have been paid. It will happen now.
Untold numbers of Israelis who are now sitting in their succas and celebrating Jewish freedom, who are driving in their cars, who are standing on line at the bank, who are sitting in their nursery school classrooms painting pictures of Torah scrolls for Simhat Torah will be killed for being Jewish while in Israel because Netanyahu has made this deal. The unrelenting pain of their families, left to cope with their absence, will be unimaginable.
This is a simple fact and it is beyond dispute.
It is also beyond dispute that untold numbers of IDF soldiers and officers will be abducted and held hostage. Soldiers now training for war or scrubbing the floors of their barracks, or sitting at a pub with their friends on holiday leave will one day find themselves in a dungeon in Gaza or Sinai or Lebanon undergoing unspeakable mental and physical torture for years. Their families will suffer inhuman agony.
The only thing we don't know about these future victims is their names. But we know what will become of them as surely as we know that night follows day.
Netanyahu has proven once again that taking IDF soldiers hostage is a sure bet for our Palestinian neighbors. In his public statement on the Schalit deal, Netanyahu invoked the Jewish tradition of pidyon shevuim, or the redemption of captives. But the Talmudic writ is not unconditional. The rabbinic sages were very clear. The ransom to be paid cannot involve the murder of other Jews.
This deal - like its predecessors - is not in line with Jewish tradition. It stands in opposition to Jewish tradition. Even in our darkest hours of powerlessness in the ghettos and the pales of exile, our leaders did not agree to pay for a life with other life. Judaism has always rejected human sacrifice.
Who Are the Palestinian Prisoners Set for Release in Shalit Deal?
-Chaim Levinson, Yaniv Kubovich, & Revital Hovel
The list released by the Israel Prison Service of the Palestinian prisoners set to be released in exchange for abducted soldier Gilad Shalit include more than 280 Palestinians serving life sentences. More than 100 are serving multiple life sentences for high-casualty suicide bombings they were convicted of helping to plan and implement. Included for release is Nasser Yataima, who was sentenced to 29 life sentences for the 2002 bombing of a Netanya hotel on Passover.