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by Rhonda Spivak, October 12, 2011

Although Prime Minister Netanyahu  has pushed for the deal approved with Hamas to release Gilad Schalit in exchange for a thousand Palestinian convicts Netanyahu was not always so disposed to prisoner exchange deals.
In fact, Netanyahu warned against exchanging terrorists for kidnapped soldiers in his 1995 book, Fighting Terrorism: How Democracies Can Defeat Domestic and International Terrorists, writing that it was “a mistake that Israel made over and over again” and that refusing to release terrorists from prison was “among the most important policies that must be adopted in the face of terrorism.”

The release of convicted terrorists before they have served their full sentences seems like an easy and tempting way of defusing blackmailed situations in which innocent people may lose their lives, but its utility is momentary at best,” Netanyahu wrote.

“Prisoner releases only embolden terrorists by giving them the feeling that even if they are caught, their punishment will be brief. Worse, by leading terrorists to think such demands are likely to be met, they encourage precisely the terrorist blackmail they are supposed to defuse.”

Presumably Netanyahu entered the deal because Israel needs to show its citizens that it will do everything possible to bring its soldiers home—the nation wanted Shalit home, understandably. Every parent in Israel wants to know that  no soldier will ever be abandoned to die before they see own their loved ones enlisted.

A noteworthy aspect of this whole  chapter is the revelation that a key factor in  Israel's decision to end  Operation Cast Lead on the Gaza Strip in early 2009, [when Israel retaliated to Hamas's  breaking the ceasefire and launching an all-out attack] was a Hamas threat to kill Shalit if the offensive continued.


Notwithstanding the above, the deal undoubtedly strengthens the hands of Hamas.
The Hamas regime in Gaza will gain by the Schalit deal and its standing in the Palestinian street, and the wider Arab-Muslim world will climb.

Hamas has been able to force Israelto negotiate with it as an equal partner, and has achieved the release of a large number of terrorists – including some sentenced to life terms for personally murdering Israeli civilians.

The Schalit deal will be used by Hamas to claim that it is the most effective representative of the Palestinians---and that violence is the route to regain all of what is now Israel.

Images of freed Palestinian prisoners will likely convince many Palestinians that Hamas is right, and violence and non-recognition o f Israel  is the preferred route to gain independence.
It must be remembered that in 2006, Hamas won a majority in Palestinian elections to parliament not only in Gaza, but in the West Bank. A year later, Hamas gunmen stormed Fatah positions and threw Fatah fighters form the rooftops  in a coup that ejected Fatah from the Strip.
Fatah’s grip on power in the West Bank is likely more shaky than it may appear. If you read articles by one of , if not, the best reporter on events in the territories, Khaled abu Toameh, you will see that he has been writing for a while now  that  Fatah, which is viewed by many Palestinians as unreformed and corrupt, and as using aid money to benefit its own insiders, is not that well loved, and could well go down if any election in the West Bank were held (Abbas’s term expired in Jan. 2009).

 As Toameh wrote this past May,

Fatah continues to suffer from a problem of credibility among many Palestinians, largely because of its failure to reform in wake of its crushing defeat to Hamas in the 2006 election. This disappointment with Fatah comes in addition to the fact that it has so far failed to come up with new and more attractive candidates who could lead the faction toward victory over Hamas.

The Palestinian Authority may end up asking for a state in September that would eventually be controlled by its rivals in Hamas. Mahmoud Abbas and Salam Fayyad and the UN need to think twice before they embark on such a gamble.
If the Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti is released as part of the exchange. Mahmoud Abbas will suffer a significant defeat: Hamas will have arranged for the release of the most popular Palestinian prisoner.

Update:It has now been reported in Ynet that  Barghouti is not part of the deal, and that Hamas had to give up  that demand


It is arguable that Netanyahu will now be able to say to the word, that he was even willing to negotiate with Hamas, indirectly, and was willing to make painful concessions. He may be able to say to the Quartet that this deal proves that only negotiations, not the Palestinian unilateral statehood bid at the UN, will lead to real progress. Netanyahu has now agreed to negotiations without pre-conditions with Abbas. It is Abbas that is insisting on  preconditions. Will Netanyahu now be able to say to the world,  if he can find a way to  negotiate indirectly with Hamas, why won’t Abbas get back to the table and negotiate ? That, however, does not mean that Abbas will in fact return to negotiate.

Robert Danin, who headed the Quartet Mission in Jerusalem, however, has written that the deal will result in Abbas  now feeling even further compelled to push forward in his statehood bid at the United Nations. 
Some of those Palestinian convicts who will be released under the deal were sentenced to life terms for personally murdering Israeli civilians.
Everyone knows that one or more of them will attempt to murder again--and will likely be successful at some point.

Last year, David Bedein of Israel Resource New Agency commissioned two reporters to interview Hamas members who are serving life sentences for multiple murders.

These interviews are now newsworthy, since these are the Hamas convicts who may be freed in the near future under the Shalit deal.

As Bedein says,

 "Our agency interviewed 12 of these convicts who would be released, each of whom promise to return to the path of murder, if released."

To see footage of these interviews go to:


As Barry Rubin has said, the release of these prisoners could even be the spark that lights up the third intifada.

As an aside, it should be noted that the PA has been paying salaries
to all convicted terrorists in Israeli prisons. Moreover, the PA pays those salaries from its general budget such that money paid by the US, and other donors has been going to pay the salaries of convicted terrorists.

Some legislators haven't been so happy to learn this.




In response to this deal, Michael Totten in Comentary Magazine has suggested Israel needs a death penalty for convicted terrorists who have murdered.

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

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