In the past, Israel has drawn a red line in negotiations for prisoner release deals with terrorists not to include Israeli Arab citizens, some of whom appear on Hamas’ list as talks continue in the hope of reaching a deal for the release of Gilad Shalit. While Israeli has announced it will not include Israeli Arabs in a release deal for Shalit’s return, some feel this case may set yet another new precedent, the crossing of another red line.
Al-Shark al-Awsat reported on Sunday that Israel has already agreed to release all the “serious terrorists” with blood on their hands, but the inability to reach agreement now surrounds Hamas’ demands for the release of a number of Israeli Arab terrorists.
There are conflicting reports regarding the number of terrorists on whom there is no agreement, with the al-Shark al-Awsat report stating that number is 125, terrorists that Israel insists must be exiled to Gaza or other countries, unwilling to permit them to return to PA (Palestinian Authority) autonomous areas in Yehuda and Shomron. It appears German mediators are heavily involved in an effort to find a mutually acceptable solution to this issue.
Senior Hamas official Muhmad a-Zahar is quoted as telling the daily Yisrael HaYom that in every negotiating process there must be compromise, adding Hamas has given its terms and Israel will have to compromise since it is clear by now that Hamas is not about to back down from its original demands, the list of prisoners who must be released. He adds there “are technical matters” which can be solved, stating he believes if Israel is willing, a deal can be closed in a matter of weeks.
(Yechiel Spira – YWN Israel)