Ron Ben-Yishai

Prelude to larger deal?

Monday's swap with Hizbullah may be first step ahead of more significant exchange

The exchanges involving bodies and a Lebanese prisoner Monday looks like a prelude to a more significant deal involving our captives and MIAs. The question is – how significant?


The Prime Minister's Office already made it clear that it received information regarding Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, the two IDF soldiers who were kidnapped prior to the outbreak of the Second Lebanon War. However, these deals are usually like an onion – layer after layer must be peeled in order to reach the core, which is also made up of several parts.


For example, the return of the body of Israeli national Gabriel Dwait as well as the return of the Lebanese prisoner was in fact merely a cover story for the core of the deal, which was the return of the bodies of two Hizbullah fighters killed in battles in Maroun al-Ras, in exchange for information on Goldwasser and Regev.


The fact that Israel was asked to hand over two bodies in exchange for information is not a good sign.


The question is whether what happened Monday is part of a larger story. Or in other words, is Germany's intention to release Iranian intelligence officer Kazem Darabi related to this deal?


Are Iranians willing to talk?

We know that Israel asked Hizbullah for information about Ron Arad. Hizbullah was supposed to provide the information in the framework of Phase Two of the deal that secured the release of drug dealer Elchanan Tennenbaum and the return of the bodies of three IDF soldiers abducted in the Har Dov region in 2000.


Phase Two of the Tennenbaum deal never materialized, because Hizbullah was unable to present new information, even though group members apparently engaged in genuine and considerable efforts to find out information about Arad's fate.


The ones who have not yet provided any information or replied to questions posed by Israel and the mediators in the Ron Arad affair are the Iranians. It is known with certainty that members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard were involved in Arad's interrogation and stay in captivity.


The question is this: Are the Iranians now willing to say more than they did up until now, and is the release of the Iranian intelligence officer in Germany related to this matter? And another question: Is all of this part of one grand deal formulated by the German mediator on behalf of the United Nations with the assistance of Ofer Dekel, who is in charge of handling contacts on the matter on behalf of Israel, and also involving Hizbullah and possibly Iranian elements? 


פרסום ראשון: 10.15.07, 23:12
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