Friday, July 02, 2010

Israel will free 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Gilad Shalit.

The family of Gilad Shalit have had some success in forcing Netanyahu to do something to try to ensure the release of their son.

Israel's prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, tonight confirmed he was prepared to release 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, but drew the line at paying "any price" for the soldier's freedom.

In a live broadcast, clearly in response to pressure brought by a 12-day march across the country by the soldier's supporters, Netanyahu spoke emotionally about the Shalits' ordeal but insisted he bore responsibility for the nation's interests.

"I look into the pained eyes of Shalit's family and feel the pain with them," the prime minister said. "The call to pay any price is a natural cry from the hearts of his fathers, mothers, grandparents, brothers and sisters. As a brother, as a father, as a son, I understand this cry from the depths of my heart. But before me I see the security of all the state's citizens.

"The state of Israel is willing to pay a heavy price for the release of Shalit, but it cannot say 'at any price.' "

No-one would ask that Israel has to pay "any price", but there is precedent for the state of Israel releasing many Palestinian prisoners in order to ensure the release of their soldiers.

So, Netanyahu can only be making this point because he dislikes some of the names which Hamas has given as the price of releasing Gilad.

Remember Israel holds thousands of Palestinian prisoners, many of whom are political prisoners.
At the time of writing, about 5,600 Palestinians are in Israeli custody for political reasons - there are also a few hundred common criminals.

The batch of about 350 prisoners released as a "goodwill gesture" by Israel on 6 August gives a good indication of the kind of activity many Palestinians are jailed for.

Membership of Hamas, Islamic Jihad or other Palestinian militant organisations, stone-throwing, assisting militant organisations or "wanted" Palestinians, firearms and explosives offences.

I imagine, although I have nothing to back this up, that Netanyahu is referring to people like Marwan al-Barghouti when he states that he will not release just anyone to ensure Gilad is reunited with his parents.

But Netanyahu's position has not gone down well with Gilad Shalit's parents.

Noam Shalit, the abducted soldier's father, said Netanyahu's statement was a "recycling" of the position taken by the former prime minister, Ehud Olmert.

However, Zvi Shalit, the soldier's grandfather, said Netanyahu's position represented a "death sentence for Gilad".

The Israeli government's reaction to Gilad's abduction has been disgraceful from day one. They could have offered a prisoner swap from the beginning, but Olmert decided to invade Lebanon in a war which cost Israel her international reputation and her record as a nation which never loses a war.

The real wonder is that Shalit is alive at all after Israel engaged in an act of collective punishment against the peoples of Gaza and Lebanon.

But all the indications are that this young Israeli is still alive. It's long past the time when the Israeli government should get serious about ensuring that Shalit is reunited with his parents.

Click here for full article.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

One soldier is worth exactly 1/919th of the lives taken by violence by ISRAEL in the last 18 months.
July 2, 2010

This issue is in danger of turning an absurdity into an obscenity.

One Israeli soldier captured by Israel's enemy has to be compared with the over 900 men, women and children killed by the IDF in Gaza just over a year ago. The killers still remain free and no one has yet been charged with what has been alleged to be a war crime.

Added to which are the nine aid passengers on board a ship on the high seas killed by Israeli commandos who stormed their vessel two weeks ago.

Let us regain a sense of proportion! This one soldier is worth exactly 1/919th of the lives taken by violence by Israel in the last year and a half.

But there is a very important difference. The (live) Israeli soldier was armed and on active service. The 919 (dead) civilians were all unarmed and included hundreds of women and children.