The Gilad Shalit Prisoner Exchange

By Jeffrey Goldberg

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.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2011/10/the-gilad-shalit-prisoner-exchange/246519/