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.