By David Bedein
Hamas’ military wing is in no rush to complete a prisoner exchange deal.
Sources in Israeli intelligence surmise that Hamas’ military wing believes that by holding an Israeli solider, their possession of Israeli Corporal Shalit provides them with personal “insurance” against assassination and a broader insurance policy against a potential Israeli invasion of Gaza.
The kidnappers are under intense pressure from Palestinian convicts’ families, clans and supporters to have “their” prisoners’ name added to the list.
Yesterday was Palestinian Prisoner Day, and it was marked by demonstrations throughout Palestinian Arab areas, with calls for the release of more than 1,400 Palestinians who have been convicted of murder or attempted murder.
On Monday, various Palestinian organizations issued statements which threatened the kidnapping of Israeli citizens and soldiers as a “proven” method of securing the release of Palestinian prisoners.
In an interview that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert gave to Canadian television, Olmert said that he refrained from saying how many prisoners Israel would be prepared to release in the end, but he said that it certainly would not be “1,400.”
He said that he would be prepared to make a deal that was “reasonable in Middle Eastern terms” that would involve the release of more prisoners than the governments of North America or Europe would be prepared to release in exchange for a single captive. The prime minister noted that the issue of Shalit posed as an obstacle to peace talks with the Palestinians.
David Bedein can be reached at Media@actcom.co.il. His Web site is www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com
©The Bulletin 2007