The on-going instability in the Israeli political scene may influence the progress of prisoner exchange with the Hizbullah, which is supposed to include the return of kidnapped IDF soldiers Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser. However, another step possibly included in the deal will take place Sunday morning – handing over prisoner and secret agent Nissim Nasser back to Lebanon.
Nasser is a former Jew who converted to Islam, moved to Israel from Lebanon and was sentenced to six years in prison for espionage in 2002. His prison term, mostly spend at Hasharon Prison, has recently ended, but the security establishment considered holding onto him – perhaps as a bargaining chip in the negotiations – and he has been held under administrative arrest at the Nitzan Detention Center.
By 8 am on Sunday, Nasser should have crossed the border into Lebanon near Rosh Hanikra accompanied by security forces. “He will be transferred in the morning from the Nitzan Detention Center to an army base in Rosh Hanikra, and his return into Lebanon will be completed with the help of the Red Cross and UNIFIL,” Nasser’s attorney Smadar Ben-Natan told Ynet.
According to her, Nasser remains skeptical until the last minute. “On our last conversation Friday, he expressed his concern regarding his release,” said Ben-Natan. Earlier this week, his attorney said that “the timing of the release is not coincidental. Israel could have transferred him to Lebanon a few weeks ago, but the procedure has been delayed in order to be perceived as an Israeli gesture.”
On Monday, Lebanese officials reported major progress in the UN-mediated negotiations between Israel and Hizbullah, saying that the German mediator Gerhard Konrad had met with members of the Shiite group and that a breakthrough was near.
Israel has expressed its willingness to free Samir Kuntar and four other Lebanese prisoners in exchange for the Goldwasser and Eldad's release.