Reproduction photo: Hagai Aharon
Eldad Regev
Reproduction photo: Hagai Aharon
Photo: Reuters
Ehud Goldwasser
Photo: Reuters

Poll: 61% of Israelis in favor of releasing Kuntar

On eve of potential prisoner swap between Israel and Hizbullah, public expresses support for deal even in return for bodies of kidnapped soldiers Goldwasser and Regev. Defense Minister Barak to meet with captives' families Friday

On the eve of a potential prisoner exchange between Israel and Hizbullah, the Israeli public has expressed its support for a deal which would include the release of Samir Kuntar, who murdered the Haran family in Nahariya in 1979 and is considered a key bargaining chip in the Ron Arad affair.


According to a poll conducted by the Dahaf Institute and published by Yedioth Ahronoth on Friday, 61% of the respondents support Kuntar's release, even if kidnapped Israeli soldiers Eldad Regev and Ehud Godlwasser are no longer alive.


Defense Minister Ehud Barak has said in closed forums that if Regev and Godlwasser are dead, releasing Kuntar in exchange for their bodies would create a dangerous precedent.


Barak was expected to meet Friday with the Goldwasser and Regev families, and with the family of Gilad Shalit who is being held in Gaza, ahead of possible developments in the negotiations with Hizbullah and Hamas.


Sixty-eight percent of the respondents expressed their support for Noam Shalit's claims that his son Gilad has been abandoned by the Israeli government. Seventy-eight percent of the respondents said that Shalit's release should have been included in the lull agreement with Hamas.


Talking to reporters in Paris on Thursday, the defense minister said that the talks for the release of Goldwasser and Regev were maturing and that a decision on the issue would be made "in the coming days and weeks, and not within months."


Ofer Dekel, the man tasked by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to handle the captive soldiers' release, held meetings with the Regev and Goldwasser families at the prime minister's Tel Aviv office two days ago.


Omri Avni, the father of Ehud Goldwasser's wife Karnit, who took part in the meeting, said that the family members were briefed on the talks, but refused to elaborate. He did not say whether the families were updated on their sons' condition.


According to information collected so far, the prisoner swap deal with Hizbullah has entered an advanced stage and could be implemented shortly. As part of the deal, Regev and Goldwasser will be returned to Israel, while Kuntar, four other Hizbullah prisoners and some 10 bodies will be delivered to Lebanon.


פרסום ראשון: 06.20.08, 08:25
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