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Deal for Shalit Signed

UPDATED: Israeli soldier has been in captivity in Gaza for more than five years; deal reached with Egyptian mediation

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Portrait of the soldier as a young man.(David Silverman/Getty Images)

UPDATE (7:38): Confirming the deal, Hamas leader Khaled Meshal said the swap would take place in a week. Though Palestinians celebrated the deal and though trading 1,000 guys for one guy would seem to be a poor bargain, Jonathan Tobin explains why Prime Minister Netanyahu was right to make the deal (or, more precisely, why he had to). Jeff Goldberg has some thoughts, too.

UPDATE (7:15): New reports say Marwan Barghouti will not be a part of the deal, which is said to involve more than 1000 prisoners.

UPDATE (4:45): You can read Prime Minister Netanyahu’s remarks to his cabinet, in which he invokes the principle of tikkun olam, here. Speaking of saving one life versus saving the world entire, already a Committee of Rabbis for the Salvation of Israel is opposing the deal on the grounds that the prisoners it will free will end up killing Jews.

UPDATE (4:12): President Abbas announced his support for the Shalit deal (if the train is leaving the station, you may as well get on board). Also, Shmuel Rosner reports that the religious Shas party, unlike Yisrael Beiteinu, is backing it.

UPDATE (4:00): “In the coming days we will return Gilad to the bosom of his parents, Aviva and Noam, to his brother Yoel, his sister Hadas, his grandfather Tzvi and the entire people of Israel,” said Prime Minister Netanyahu. Hamas leader Khamed Meshaal claims 1000 prisoners will be released. Meanwhile, speculation continues to swirl about why both Netanyahu and Hamas would desire Barghouti’s freedom: he is at the very least an ex-terrorist likely to sharply challenge President Abbas’ leadership but also strengthen Fatah against Hamas.

UPDATE (3:35): Prime Minister Netanyahu’s office tweets, “I especially thank the #Egyptian government and its security services for their role in mediation & concluding of the deal #Shalit.” Shmuel Rosner reports that a few ministers, including Yisrael Beiteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman, voted agains the deal. Haaretz reports that the deal has been several days in the making, with Israel’s and Hamas’ chief negotiators in Cairo for the past several days and with Netanyahu holding a meeting of a special committee, the existence of which was placed under a gag order.

UPDATE (3:10): According to the Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Twitter feed, Shalit “will be coming home in the next few days.” Also: “the agreement to release #Shalit was signed in initials last Thursday and today was signed formally by the two parties.” Much speculation is centering around the identities of the hundreds of prisoners which Israel would be releasing, and most of all whether Marwan Barghouti, the extremely popular Palestinian leader who was jailed for his alleged role in the Second Intifada, will be included. What’s interesting about this is that Barghouti is seen as a rival to Hamas.

(UPDATE 2:55: Israel Radio says the deal has been reached.) It might be happening. The Israeli cabinet is meeting in an emergency session over a prisoner swap deal (well into the hundreds) with Hamas, apparently brokered by Egypt (and not by the German mediator who had been handling things).

If approved, Shalit could be returned as early as November, or roughly 65 months after his capture.

Meanwhile, ABC News reports that U.S. authorities disrupted an Iran-backed “significant terrorist attack in the United States” targeting Israeli and Saudi diplomats and embassies. The Saudi embassy is in Foggy Bottom, in Washington, D.C., across the street from the Watergate complex, yards from the Kennedy Center, and a couple blocks from the State Department; the Israeli embassy is in sleepier upper northwest, a few blocks from my synagogue and a few more from my high school. In other words, the Iranians are kind of assholes.

Possible Deal Near to Free Captive Israeli Soldier [NYT]
U.S. Says Iran-Tied Terror Plot in Washington D.C. Disrupted [ABC News]

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I hope as Egypt brokered Gilad Shalit’s release from Gaza that this will stay Netanyahu’s hand from bombing Egypt. The world can hope.

Prayers for Gilad Shalit.

Bill Pearlman says:

Jules, your an idiot.

Jehudah Ben-Israel says:

Gilad Shalit, abducted from sovereign Israeli territory and in more than five years of solitary confinemen­t never permitted to have a single visit by an International Red Cross personnel, will be free, happily, in exchange of hundreds of convicted prisoners in Israel with the blood of hundreds of people on their hands.

Gilad Shalit was guarding the very lives of the civilian population of southern Israel in the face of attempts by Hamas operatives to extinct them through the use of rockets, missiles, mortars, roadside explosives­, and light arm fire. Those who will be released from Israeli prisoners have mass murdered children, men, women and the elderly and the only reason these innocent were murdered, and thousands more maimed, is the fact that they were living peacefully in their country, the nation-sta­te of the Jewish people.

Ethically, this is the comparison that must be made when one thinks about this exchange.

P.S. Hamas, in its announceme­nt – televised, in Arabic – clearly stated that it will continue to try to abduct Israeli civilians and soldiers with the intention of freeing convicted mass murderers in prisons in Israel. This is the face of Hamas, part of the Hamas-PLO Union to whom some want to hand over a “state”.

Shalom Freedman says:

The implications of this deal are many , complex, and not all clear at the moment.
On the negative side, one must think of those families who will see the murderers of their loved ones released. This is the most painful and difficult aspect of that deal.
The second negative is that there may be, if past experience proves a precedent, future victims of released terrorists. However it also may well be that the rules of the game have changed in regard to the conflict. i.e. The Palestinians may not be able or may not find it expedient to engate in the kind of terror which these releasees could engage in again.
On the negative side too is the bitter realization that injustice is being done in releasting murderers.
On the positive side there is above all the release of Gilad Shalit to his family.
This is positive too for all of Am Yisrael especially those who have been dedicated to Shalit’s release.
It is a demonstration of how far a Jewish state will go to save a single life. The mitzvah of ‘pidyon shevuim’ is realized.
It too is a strengthening of the people of Israel’s faith in the government that has kept its promise to the people.
It apparently is helpful also in improving the general atmosphere in Israel’s relations to Egypt and perhaps even to the Palestinians.
It is a blow to Iran and its allies Hezbollah, and a possible further source of cleavage between ‘Hamas’ and patron Iran.
It shows too that a ‘deal’ can be made. And may push the now somewhat out of the headlines Abbas and Fatah to negotiations with Israel.
‘Hamas’ will claim it as a great victory. This is another negative. But they will have to contend with the families of the prisoners they have not brought home.
‘Am Yisrael’ will this Succot however feel a certain relief and happiness. Through great sacrifice and care we will have brought a prisoner home. ‘Who saves a single life saves a whole world.’ In this case it appears to be true.

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Deal for Shalit Signed

UPDATED: Israeli soldier has been in captivity in Gaza for more than five years; deal reached with Egyptian mediation

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