The Washington Post joined the flurry of criticism directed at the prisoner swap that returned IDF soldier Gilad Shalit home in exchange for 1,027 Palestinian prisoners, claiming that the deal is detrimental to the already stagnant peace process between Israel and the Palestinians.
"The jubilation and relief that greeted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit and hundreds of Palestinian prisoners as they returned home Tuesday superficially suggested a breakthrough in long-stalled relations between Israelis and Palestinians," the editorial said.
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The editorial noted that the Palestinians, including PA President Mahmoud Abbas, welcomed the returning "murderers and would-be suicide bombers as heroes" and mentioned a failed terrorist, Wafa al-Biss, who urged schoolchildren to follow her example.
Dismissing the US and European leaders' inevitable expressions of hope that the deal would bring to the renewal of the stalled Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, the newspaper claims that the deal has weakened Abbas "while strengthening Hamas, which remains committed to Israel’s destruction."
Hamas wasted no time saying that the deal "would inspire more operations to capture Israeli hostages to exchange for Palestinian prisoners," the editorial notes.
No courage or statemenship
Echoing a recent New York Times editorial of the same theme, the Washington Post cited Israeli officials' claim that the deal demonstrates "Netanyahu's willingness to make painful compromises with the Palestinians."
However, it also notes that the prime minister's decision to release the Palestinian prisoners in exchange for one Israeli solider was widely backed by the Israeli public; there has never been such an outcry in support of any deal with Abbas, or for continued talks with Hamas.
The editorial claims that Netanyahu could amplify the benefits of the deal by easing the blockade on the Gaza Strip, a measure that would reduce the tensions between Israel, Turkey and Egypt, and could lessen support of the Palestinians' bid for UN membership. Abbas, in turn, "could quickly reassert his role as Palestinian leader by accepting the invitation of the United States, European Union, United Nations and Russia to unconditionally resume peace talks with Mr. Netanyahu."
The newspaper, however, suggests that by approving the deal, among other measures, Netanyahu has made it difficult for Abbas to make concessions.
"For Mr. Abbas to return to peace talks without any such concession — or for Mr. Netanyahu to meet him halfway — would require courage and statesmanship that neither seems able to muster," the editorial concludes.
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