Palestinian prisoners go free
Photo: Reuters
Meir Shamgar
Photo: Alex Kolomoisky
Ehud Barak
Photo: Atta Awisat
Barak receives report on prisoner swap guidelines
Two months after Shalit's return from Hamas captivity committee submits recommendations on guidelines for future swap deals

A committee chaired by former Supreme Court President Meir Shamgar submitted its recommendations on guidelines for prisoner exchange cases to Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Thursday.


"Gilad Shalit has returned and the time has come to regulate the handling of missing and captive soldiers and to stop the slippery slope we find ourselves in since the Jibril deal, through the Tannenbaum and Shalit deals," Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Thursday.


Shamgar said at a press conference, "Our report addresses the whole issue. We did not discuss just the question of completing negotiations but also whether to hold negotiations, what are permitted boundaries and who are the deciding elements."


He noted that the committee recommended that the issue be placed in the hands of the defense minister but acknowledged that both the prime minister and cabinet ministers must be involved in the various stages of negotiations.


"The matter of secrecy is integral to our recommendations. We do not want to provide information to hostile elements."


Barak said that during Shalit's days in captivity he raised the issue of changing the guidelines on prisoner swaps in order to avoid the type of negotiations made famous by the Tannenbaum and Jibril deals.


"Today, after Gilad's return we are called to examine any future procesesses," Barak said. He stressed that the report was top secret and noted it will be presented to the prime minister and later to the cabinet.


The committee was established following extensive criticism on previous prisoner swap deals. Its recommendations will serve as working tools for future negotiations. On Wednesday, Channel 1 reported that one of the recommendations was to end the practice of appointing a special Israeli mediator such as those appointed in the Shalit negotiations.


The committee recommended setting up a designated body to manage the negotiations or tasking one of the intelligence services with the matter. The committee does not advise exchanging a captive for captives alone, as previously rumored.




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