Israel Willing to Discuss Prisoner Swap?

The Israeli government is prepared to swap prisoners with Hezbollah, reports a major Israeli paper.

Israel is willing to discuss a possible release of Hizbollah prisoners in exchange for freeing two Israeli soldiers abducted by Lebanese guerrillas last month, the Haaretz newspaper reported on Sunday.


Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has said he will not negotiate to free the soldiers Hizbollah captured in a July 12 cross-border raid, but Israel has traded prisoners for its own captives in the past. “Israel has done, is doing and will do all it is able to do in order to effect the return home of the sons,” Olmert told his cabinet at the outset of its weekly session on Sunday. Israel Radio quoted Olmert as telling ministers he would name a senior official to deal with the issue and “a tremendous struggle is being waged to free them.”

Haaretz said Israel would negotiate the release of the troops and that in exchange Israel would be ready to free several Lebanese prisoners and about 20 other Hizbollah men it has captured during its current offensive in Lebanon.

One certainly hopes Haaretz has it wrong here. For one thing, as anyone who has taken an elementary economics course knows, rewarding behavior yields more of it. If terrorists can get 30-40 people released for every Israeli they kidnap, they’ll happily kidnap more Israelis. Moreover, Israel has launched two major military actions, in both Gaza and Lebanon, rather than negotiate for the return of hostages. It would be perverse irony, indeed, were they to negotiate after causing so much death and destruction.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. DC Loser says:

    Not too much else the Israelis have done here makes sense either, militarily wise anyway. So what else is new? BTW, Israel and Hezbollah (as well as the Hamas, and other groups) had prisoner exchanges in the past. And Israel has done its share of “grabbing” people for later exchanges in the past.

  2. Dave Schuler says:

    I think I disagree with you here, James.

    First, the Hamas and Hezbollah cases are very different. The abduction of an Israeli soldier by Hamas was carefully planned, expensive, and time consuming. You’re not going to get a lot more of that with or without a prisoner exchange.

    The Hezbollah attack was an attack of opportunity. A small group of Israeli soldiers got isolated from their fellows; Hezbollah seized the opportunity and attacked. The preventive measure for that is don’t give them the opportunity.

    In my view Israel’s response to the Hezbollah attack should have been a) a sharp, brief, harsh punitive strike against Hezbollah facilities in southern Lebanon; b) reform of procedures within the IDF to increase vigilance; c) a quiet prisoner exchange.

    Instead they bombed Beirut.

    It’s not perverse irony that they’re negotiating now. It’s stupid and pathetic.

    Olmert has behaved like a politician rather than a leader throughout. He ratcheted up the use of force as it boosted his approval rating and is ratcheting down when his approval rating started to fall.

  3. If they swap–it’s possibly the beginning of the end.

  4. Dean Esmay says:

    Well they have done prisoner exchanges before. Only this time they had one after being severely punished. So I dunno…

  5. John Poleshek says:

    The Israeli,s have no choice but to swap prisoners for their captured soldiers but the swap should only be one for one. Also this is not a perfect world soldiers are human,s and prone to making mistakes so to expect some soldiers not to get captured is ilogical.

    In reguards to the death and destruction caused
    by Israel three facts repute this statment.1 hizbelloh terrorist do not evacuate civilans from
    war zones even though they started the war by firing rockets(which was a seperate issue from kidnapping soldiers)2.hizbelloh terrorist do not wear uniforms(even though they seem to have plenty of funds avaiable for rockets),3hizbelloh
    fortifications are not built as military structures rather they are disguised as farmshouses, single family homes, churches, hospitals, schools, etc,etc,ect.

  6. Chris says:

    Israel has repeatedly swapped prisioners with extremists. They will again. They should’ve a month ago.

    Israel has also repeatedly lied about civilian massacres.

    I do not support Hizbollah, but I do think, as many Israeli’s do, that Zionism is a greater threat to the nation of Israel, than Hizbollah or Iran.