Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who is in favor of a prisoner exchange deal with Hamas that will see captive soldier Gilad Shalit returned to Israel, said he is also aware of its possible ramifications.
Speaking to Channel 2 Wednesday evening, Barak said, "We must stop Israel's slide down the slippery slope, which did not begin with (former Prime Minister Ehud) Olmert, but 20 years earlier with the (Ahmed) Jibril deal, followed by (Elhanan) Tannenbaum and the return of the bodies (of slain IDF soldiers Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser) from Lebanon.
"This is a slippery slope. In the Middle East this pattern must be stopped, or else we will see more and more kidnappings," he said.
The Jibril Agreement was a prisoner exchange deal which took place on May 21 1985 between the Israeli government, headed by Shimon Peres, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. As part of the agreement, Israel released 1,150 security prisoners in exchange for three Israeli prisoners captured during the first Lebanon war.
In 2004 Israel released hundreds of Lebanese and Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Tannenbaum, who was kidnapped by Hezbollah, and the remains of three Israeli soldiers. In 2008 coffins containing the remains of Goldwasser and Regev were returned to Israel as part of another prisoner exchange with Hezbollah.
Many prisoners who were released by Israel as part of these deals resumed their terrorist activities.
Barak refused to disclose any additional information on the negotiations for Shalit's release, but stressed that Israel has a "moral obligation" and will "take any worthy and possible measure to bring Gilad home.
"What does it matter what happened in the past? The fact is that he (Shalit) has been in captivity for three and a half years now, and if he can be returned as part of a difficult and painful deal, then this is what we must do," said the defense minister.