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Photo: AP
Samir Kuntar (Archive photo)
Photo: AP
Ron Arad (Archive photo)
Close deal with Hizbullah
Experience shows that Israel must finalize prisoner swap despite price

Smadar Haran, whose family was murdered by Samir Kuntar, slammed what she characterized as the media bargaining around the prisoner swap being worked out between Israel and Hizbullah. There is no easy or pleasant way to say this, but her claim is baseless.

 

It is ok to talk about cost-benefit considerations and calculations that the public and certainly the media are party too. This is not media bargaining, but rather, exactly what the government should be doing at this time: Weighing the considerations and taking a decision. The State has the right to engage in human economics; moreover, this is its duty. In war too, the government decides who will be dying so others can live.

 

The struggles around the return of captives started as early as the Yom Kippur War. In a Knesset speech, Golda Meir addressed the issue, said that “they are the sons of all of us,” and promised to the parents what every prime minister since then has been promising – we won’t rest until we bring them back home.

 

Yet a week later she signed a ceasefire deal, and two weeks later she faced the families protesting against her and reminding her of the pledge that there would be no ceasefire before a prisoner swap.

 

In any case, what is clear is that we have two abducted soldiers in Lebanon, and Israel does not know their condition with certainty. We also know that these soldiers have relatives here that endure daily and exhausting suffering, and now there’s a possibility to ease it. And if this shall come at the price of releasing Samir Kuntar, who has been in an Israeli jail for 29 years now, so be it.

 

Arad case will likely never be resolved

No terrorist in an Israeli prison justifies the ongoing suffering of the families. The expectation to receive the maximal price for Kuntar – both a sign of life from the captives and information about Ron Arad – will never be realized in any case.

 

Would such deal mean that Israel is in fact closing the Ron Arad case? Likely, even if this won’t be uttered explicitly. It is true that the Arad family is entitled to what the Goldwasser and Regev families are entitled to – getting back their loved ones, or at least finding out what happened to them. Yet as opposed to the Goldwasser and Regev case, regrettably the Ron Arad affair will apparently never be resolved.

 

In other words, there is no media bargaining, and certainly no media festival. What we do have here is a difficult dilemma and accumulated experience, and the combination of this is that Israel must approve the current prisoner swap, rather than miss out on it because of tricks and shticks, and without trying to gain something extra along the way.

 

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