Ron Ben-Yishai

Nasrallah's message: Forget Arad

Information provided by Hizbullah lacking; terror group believes Arad is dead

Now that the dust has settled over the swap with Hizbullah, and following the speech delivered by the group's secretary-general, Hassan Nasrallah, the following picture has emerged:


1. Hizbullah wishes to finalize Phase Two of the Tennenbaum deal, so that it can move on to the Goldwasser and Regev deal. The timetable of Phase Two was based on handing over information regarding Ron Arad in exchange for the release of Samir Kuntar, who murdered the father and children of the Haran family in Nahariya.


Yet the information provided by Hizbullah regarding Ron Arad and the documents it handed over to Israel via German mediator Uhrlau do not provide an answer to the question of Ron Arad's fate, whether he is dead or alive, and if he is alive, his current location. The material handed over by Hizbullah states almost explicitly that according to Hizbullah's estimate, Ron Arad is no longer alive. Yet beyond this, they are not providing additional information, and it appears they don't have any.


2. Hizbullah wants to see Israel release Samir Kuntar in exchange for information and a prisoner swap, including IDF captives Goldwasser and Regev. This demand has created a difficult dilemma for the State of Israel, as Samir Kuntar was supposed to be handed over to Hizbullah in exchange for substantive information regarding Ron Arad's fate. This information was not received, as noted. The Israeli government's dilemma, therefore, is whether to comply with Hizbullah's demands, which will almost certainly allow for a swap that would see the return of Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev to Israel, but would put off for a long time, at the very least, a chance to receive additional information about Arad.


3. Regarding Goldwasser and Regev, two phases are expected: The first phase is receiving information regarding the fate and wellbeing of the two captives. Israel will apparently have to pay for this information. The negotiations will be tough because Israel will not want to hand over to Hizbullah important Lebanese prisoners just to receive a Hizbullah announcement that Goldwasser and Regev are no longer alive. In the second phase, after information about the fate of the two captives is received, the final prisoner swap will take place. The controversial points will be as follows: Whether to release Samir Kuntar, and whether Israel would agree to Hizbullah's demand to release Palestinian prisoners. Israel will likely agree to release Lebanese held in Israel for committing "standard" crimes.


4. Nasrallah's speech Tuesday makes it clear that Hizbullah wishes to quickly finalize the Goldwasser and Regev affair in order to score some points in the Lebanese public opinion arena. Nasrallah's and Hizbullah's current status within the Lebanese theater is not particularly good and they need to show a quick achievement. This fact works in favor of speeding up negotiations, which are being undertaken under a heavy veil of secrecy – this is a required condition for success.


5. Should a deal be finalized with Hizbullah, this no doubt will also affect the Palestinian captors of abducted IDF soldier Gilad Shalit. On Tuesday, they already displayed signs of unease in face of the progress in the Lebanese captives' affair.


פרסום ראשון: 10.17.07, 19:02
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