Masthead graphic based on a painting by Gudrun Thriemer.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Prisoners and hostages, BitterLemons, July 21, 2008.

Some excerpts...

Yossi Alpher

"Israel gave up only five live Lebanese and the remains of another 50 or so Lebanese and Palestinians in return for the remains of two IDF soldiers. The most notorious of the Lebanese, Samir Kuntar, had been in jail for some 30 years--an adequate deterrent against future Kuntars. Compared to previous deals, this one was economical. Israeli negotiator Ofer Dekel deserves praise for his efforts."

Alpher argues that rather than try to standardize Israel's approach to prisoner exchange issues,
It would be more to the point to resolve that once Gilad Shalit has returned home, whatever the price, the government of Israel will undertake to release even "blood on their hands" Palestinian prisoners not under duress, as ransom for kidnapped Israelis, but as a proactive incentive and reward for progress toward peace registered by responsible Palestinians who seek a reasonable mode of coexistence with us.

Ghassan Khatib
"Israel is behaving in a way that only discredits and weakens the 'moderate' elements on the Palestinian side. The recent intensification of Israeli raids in Nablus, for example, went beyond 'security' and involved interfering in public and private institutions. This is an embarrassment for the West Bank government.

"This kind of behavior also helps explain the systematic radicalization of the Arab and Palestinian publics as well as the continuing marginalization of the 'moderate' elements in favor of those that have consistently held that Israel only respects the use of force."

Eyal Megged
"Had we made a timely deal with a weak, confused and embattled Syrian president who was begging for rescue through international recognition--not only would the abduction have been avoided but the unnecessary and pathetic war that followed as well.

"Now, not only has our societal weakness been exposed, relying on oaths and witchcraft instead of brainpower, but we are being drawn into another obvious tailspin leading to yet another war in the north, this time apparently with Syria itself....

"The morass we are sinking into is mainly in our minds."

Ghazi Hamad
bitterlemons: Has the Hizballah exchange already had an effect? Not long after, Hamas announced that talks on a prisoner swap for Gilad Shalit had been suspended.

Hamad: This has more to do with the lack of benefits Gazans have felt from the ceasefire. People are disappointed with the outcome of the truce. Israel is committed to opening the crossings and yet nothing has changed on the ground in terms of the kinds of goods coming into Gaza. So people are saying Israel can't expect negotiations over Shalit while people are still suffering from the embargo and there continues to be a lack of everything. People want to see proof that Israel is committed to the ceasefire agreement before they will talk about Shalit.
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