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Shalit Deal

No winners and no losers. Gilad's Shalit's father Photo: Avihu Shapira
No winners and no losers. Gilad's Shalit's father Photo: Avihu Shapira
 
Giora Inbar
Giora Inbar 
 
 

An autumn of hope

It turns out our leaders know how to make the right – even if painful – decisions. Why not implement these same skills in peace talks, new social agenda?

Giora Inbar
Published: 10.17.11, 11:17 / Israel Opinion

Benjamin Netanyahu deserves full credit for the decision to sign the deal securing Gilad Shalit's release. As the person responsible for the foot-dragging in the negotiations and for the kidnapped soldier's long stay in captivity, for more than half of his current term, Netanyahu should be praised for showing leadership and for making the painful and right decision.

 

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The risks involved in this deal are reasonable, as the addition of hundreds of released terrorists to the thousands who are already free and capable of using terrorism against us does not significantly increase the existing security threat. It's clear to everyone that Gilad's return alive could have only been guaranteed through this deal.

 

  • For extensive coverage of the Shalit deal, click here

 

Commentators tend to summarize the achievement in short headlines: "Clear victory," "colossal failure," "loss of deterrence," "knockout," or "crossing a red line." These superlatives are attributed to us, to the Hamas leadership or to the Palestinian Authority, according to the situation.

 

But there are no winners and no losers here. Both sides reached an agreement in a state of exhaustion, realizing that they can no longer pull the rope without bringing a disaster upon their people.

 

Just like Hamas can take pride in its successful abduction of Gilad Shalit and the achievement of managing to hold onto him until this day, while thwarting any possibility to rescue him in a military operation – the Israeli government can take pride in its success to bring him home following consistent, persistent and focused negotiations.

 

As important is the achievement of restoring the faith of every soldier and his family in the fact that a state sending him out on a mission will do all in its power to bring him home safely.

 

Drawing lessons

Above all, we must respect the Shalit family for leading a tireless public struggle in a gentle and restrained manner. Many believed that without a noisy or violent struggle, the family would not see its son released. But it turns out that the road outlined by Aviva and Noam Shalit – a persistent and gentle struggle – was the right one.

 

All this would not have happened without the complete solidarity and full support of all layers and sectors of the Israeli public for the family and its pain – and the willingness to pay any price in order to see the son return to his people and family.

 

Now, as the Shalit affair reaches its happy ending and will no longer be at the top of our agenda, we should hope that its lessons will be drawn in regards to other crucial areas in our life. Once again it turns out that at times of crisis we know how to negotiate with our worst enemies. Can't we do what we did for one soldier – for an entire nation?

 

It turns out that the prime minister and defense minister know how to make the right – even if painful – decisions. And if so, why not implement these same leadership skills in breaking the diplomatic stalemate and creating a (crucial, even if painful) agreement between us and our neighbors?

 

Why not implement these values in the creation of a new list of priorities in our internal neglected issues? In the social agenda, in education, health, welfare and the economic agenda, in a just share of the public burden, and, as important – in the right division of the national resources for the sake of the entire public.

 

The autumn of 2011 is an autumn of hope, an autumn in which "the sons return home". Let's hope it is inscribed in our hearts as an establishing period, a period in which a government which decided to decide, a period of willingness to change priorities, a period of calls for social justice and daring moves for its implementation.

 

The holiday of Simchat Torah with Gilad in Mitzpe Hila ignites a spark of hope in me for the removal of obstacles, for a better future for the Shalit family and for us all.

 

Brigadier General (Res.) Giora Inbar, a businessman, is the former commander of the IDF's Lebanon Division

 

 

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