Pris­oner swap deal now favoured by ma­jor­ity in Is­raeli cab­i­net

The Jewish Chronicle - - World News - AN­SHEL PF­EF­FER

THERE IS a clear ma­jor­ity in the Is­raeli cab­i­net for ap­prov­ing a pris­oner deal with Ha­mas, al­though there is op­po­si­tion within the in­tel­li­gence ser­vices.

The cur­rent deal be­ing dis­cussed be­tween Is­rael and Ha­mas through Egyp­tian and Ger­man in­ter­me­di­aries is es­sen­tially sim­i­lar to the one turned down by the Olmert gov­ern­ment six months ago. Ha­mas has pre­sented Is­rael with a list of 450 pris­on­ers to be re­leased in a di­rect ex­change for Shalit. As a sec­ond stage, Is­rael will release hun­dreds more at an un­spec­i­fied date.

While agree­ing the num­ber and to the release of pris­on­ers who are con­victed of mur­der, the main Is­raeli ob­jec­tion was to the release of Pales­tini­ans seen as “as­sets to the ter­ror or­gan­i­sa­tions”.

Is­rael also has reser­va­tions about re­leas­ing pris­on­ers who are linked to mul­ti­ple mur­ders, such as Fatah leader Mar­wan Bargh­outi and sec­re­tary gen­eral of the PFLP, Ahmed Saa­dat. It also ob­jects to re­leas­ing pris­on­ers who are Is­raeli cit­i­zens or res­i­dents of East Jerusalem.

Is­rael is de­mand­ing that some of the re­leased pris­on­ers be de­ported to other coun­tries and not be al­lowed to re­turn to the PA.

Orig­i­nally, Is­rael ob­jected to 125 of the 450 names on the Ha­mas list. That num­ber is un­der­stood to be lower now, but the heads of the Mos­sad and the Shabak in­ter­nal se­cu­rity ser­vice still be­lieve the deal should not be au­tho­rised.

On the other hand, both De­fence Min­is­ter Ehud Barak and IDF chief of staff Gabi Ashke­nazi are broadly in favour, as are PM Binyamin Ne­tanyahu and a ma­jor­ity of his cab­i­net.

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