The Gilad Shalit Prisoner Exchange

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Several quick observations:
1) It hasn't happened yet. Until it happens, it hasn't happened. Some reports suggest that the exchange might not happen until next month. This is an eternity.

2) Israel is paying a terrible price. Many of the people released out of Israeli jails, we have to assume, may return to violent anti-Israel activities. I don't know enough about who is being released to say for sure. Still, Jewish law and custom, and the ethos of the Israel Defense Forces, make it nearly impossible for Israel to not do whatever it can to free its soldier. "Pidyon Shvuyim," or the redemption of captives, is a sacred Jewish principle.

3) The sooner this gets done, the better. The Israeli government could not have done whatever it is that it has done without the help of Egypt, and how much longer will Israel be able to count on Egyptian help?

4) If the Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti is released as part of the exchange. Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, will have suffered a terrible defeat: Hamas will have arranged for the release of the most popular Palestinian prisoner. As it is, Abbas will be set back on his heels if the release goes through, because it is Hamas that made it possible.

5) Bibi Netanyahu is negotiating indirectly with Hamas. Just sayin'. Though on the other hand, don't expect more negotiations of this sort.

6) Something to expect: More soldier kidnappings. If Hamas wins the release of 1,000 Palestinians in exchange for a single Israeli soldier, well, the price of an Israeli soldier will just skyrocket.

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Jeffrey Goldberg is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and a recipient of the National Magazine Award for Reporting. He is the author of Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror. More

Before joining The Atlantic in 2007, Goldberg was a Middle East correspondent, and the Washington correspondent, for The New Yorker. He was previouslly a correspondent for The New York Times Magazine and New York magazine. He has also written for the Jewish Daily Forward and was a columnist for The Jerusalem Post.

Goldberg's book Prisoners was hailed as one of the best books of 2006 by the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, The Progressive, Washingtonian magazine, and Playboy. He received the 2003 National Magazine Award for Reporting for his coverage of Islamic terrorism and the 2005 Anti-Defamation League Daniel Pearl Prize. He is also the winner of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists prize for best international investigative journalist; the Overseas Press Club award for best human-rights reporting; and the Abraham Cahan Prize in Journalism.

In 2001, Goldberg was appointed the Syrkin Fellow in Letters of the Jerusalem Foundation, and in 2002 he became a public-policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

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