The London-based newspaper Al-Hayat reported this morning that the kidnapped Israeli hostage Gilad Shalit is now in Egypt as part of a deal to release him. The paper reported that Shalit was brought to Egypt a short while ago in return for guarantees that Israel would release 800 Palestinian prisoners in three stages.
Al-Hayat also reported that Hamas retracted its demand that Shalit be released at the same time as the prisoners.
Palestinian Authority Chairman Abu Mazen said that a prisoner exchange agreement has been reached in which Gilad Shalit will be returned to Israel. In an interview with a Bahraini newspaper, Abu Mazen said Shalit will be transferred to Egypt and held there until Israel carries out its part of the deal.
No Israeli government official would comment on this report.
However, if it is true that Shalit is in Egypt, there will be far reaching legal implications.
Egypt, as a sovereign nation state which has a peace treaty with Israel, would have trouble explaining how it is that their government would not hand over a citizen from a neighboring state who had been abducted by a terrorist organization.
Israeli legal authorities are now conferring on the implications what it would mean if, indeed, an abducted Israeli citizen is in the custody of the Egyptian government.
Such a situation would transform Egypt into a state which collaborates in kidnapping.
International law would require Egypt to hand over the hostage regardless of any commitment given to the terror organization that had kidnapped the hostage.
Qatar First Arab State To Pledge Troops To UNIFIL Force
The Middle East News Line has confirmed that Qatar has become the first Arab state to pledge troops to the internationally-staffed United Nations Interim Force In Lebanon.
The government in Doha said it would send up to 300 troops to UNIFIL which is positioned along the Israeli-Lebanese border. The force is intended to observe the fragile cease-fire between Israel and Hezbollah which is based in southern Lebanon.
Qatar, whose emir last week praised what he termed Hezbollah’s victory over Israel, became the first Arab state to participate in the proposed 15,000-member UN force. Despite U.S. appeals, Egypt and Jordan have refused to send troops to the Lebanese border.
On Monday, Qatari Foreign Minister Hamad Bin Jassem Al Thani announced the emirate’s decision during a visit to Doha by UN secretary-general Kofi Annan. Qatar also said it has resumed flights to Beirut despite the air and sea embargo imposed by Israel.
“We have decided to send between 200 and 300 military personnel to Lebanon as part of the UNIFIL mission,” Hamad said.
Qatar retains low-level relations with Israel. Israel’s Foreign Ministry said it welcomed Doha’s decision.
Turkey has also agreed to send forces to Lebanon. However, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan stressed that Turkish troops would not try to stop Hezbollah’s reentry to southern Lebanon.
Hamas Man Wanted For Murder Of American Now In Egypt
Muhammad Deif, a Hamas leader wanted for murder of an American citizen has traveled to Egypt to receive medical attention.
On March 15th, 1996, President Clinton declared, while standing with Esther and Yehudah Wachsman at the grave of Nachshon Wachsman, an American Israeli citizen, that the United States holds Deif directly responsible for the abduction and subsequent murder of Nachshon, who was kidnapped and killed by Deif’s terrorists in October, 1994
Clinton ordered that Deif be arrested and tried for the murder of Wachsman. However, Deif was never arrested.
The Evening Bulletin has asked the U.S. State Department whether the U.S. government has demanded that the Egyptians hand over Deif to U.S. authorities. The spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv promised that he would immediately look into this.
©The Bulletin 2006