There is no new exchange on the horizon… Shalit’s price shock controls Israel’s behavior in the prisoner negotiations

A member of the Israeli team for prisoner exchange negotiations, who recently resigned, said, “The Israeli government is powerless in the issue of prisoners and missing persons, and is not working enough towards liberating those detained by Hamas in Gaza.”

Occupied Jerusalem- The resignation of officer Moshe Tal, one of the members of the Israeli team responsible for negotiating the prisoner exchange deal with the Palestinian resistance, and the criticism he directed against his government; The state of impotence and the Israeli unwillingness to implement any deal soon.

Reserve officer Tal has been supervising the file of negotiations and secret contacts carried out by an Egyptian woman with Hamas, on behalf of the Military Intelligence Division “Aman”, since his release from the Israeli army in 2019, as a representative of the Chief of Staff of the Israeli Army Aviv Kohavi, in what is known as the “file prisoners and missing persons.

In harsh terms and strongly-worded criticisms, Officer Tal said, “The Israeli government is acting helpless and powerless in the issue of prisoners and missing persons, and is not working enough towards liberating the prisoners and missing persons held by Hamas in Gaza.”

The Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) keeps 4 Israelis, including two soldiers who were captured during the Battle of the Eaten Storm and the war on Gaza in the summer of 2014, without disclosing their fate, and the Israeli army considers them dead.

In 2018, and on two different occasions, the Israeli government squandered opportunities for an exchange deal that would lead to the return of civilians detained in Gaza; Hisham El-Sayed and Avra ​​Mengistu, who are both alive. In addition to the bodies of two soldiers, Shaul Aron and Hadar Goldin, who are being held by Hamas and who were killed during Operation Protective Edge, according to the Israeli account.

A freed prisoner in the “Shalit deal” carried on his brother’s shoulders at the Rafah crossing in 2011 (Al-Jazeera)

Shalit shock

Analysts attributed the Israeli government’s reluctance to conclude an exchange deal to what they described as “the shock price of the Shalit deal” (the Palestinians call it the “Loyalty of the Free” deal), concluded in 2011, under which Hamas released the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who had been detained since 2006, in exchange for Israel’s release of 1,027 Palestinian prisoners with high sentences, and they unanimously agreed that this shock prevents the Israeli political level from moving towards a new deal.

The criticisms leveled by Officer Tal against the political level and former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reinforced the belief of military and political analysts in Tel Aviv that the shock price of the “Shalit deal”, which still dominates the Israeli political scene, may prevent any official or party from concluding a future deal, for the purposes of Especially the coalition within the government or to remain in the prime minister’s chair.

Emphasizing the unwillingness of the Israeli government to pay the price in any future deal with Hamas, Israeli television reported that the Israeli crew member, Tal, resigned from his position several months ago, in protest of the Israeli security establishment’s failure to take serious steps to complete the exchange deal.

Picture 1 The Israeli journalist specializing in Arab and Palestinian affairs Yoav Shtern: There is no new exchange deal on the horizonYoav Shtern: No new exchange deal is on the horizon (Al-Jazeera)

Serious connotations

Yoav Shtern, an Israeli journalist specializing in Arab and Palestinian affairs, joined the criticism directed at the Israeli government, noting that Officer Tal’s statements “have very dangerous implications, confirming that the Netanyahu government obstructed the exchange deal and prevented the liberation of civilians and prisoners of war with Hamas.”

“We are talking about a professional person and a reserve officer in the military intelligence who does not have any personal and political motives and interests, and whose statements are credible and reliable,” Stern said.

The journalist believes that the previous and current Israeli governments are adopting a wrong approach in the file of prisoners and missing persons, linking the Gaza reconstruction file to the exchange deal, and also bargaining with Hamas by tightening the siege on civilians, to force it to make concessions regarding the prisoners’ file.

According to Shtern, Israel aims by this approach to aggravate the internal situation in Gaza and turn the civilian population against Hamas, thinking that this will push the movement to compromise in any future deal in exchange for “facilitations” and progress in reconstruction projects.

On whether these statements may constitute Israeli internal pressure and pave the way for a new deal, Shtern said, “These statements confirm that Israel, with its various governments, coalition and political formations, is still far from completing a new deal with Hamas.”

He pointed out that the intensification of the exchange of visits of the Israeli-Egyptian security delegations, and the leaks of secret negotiations regarding the exchange deal; “It suggests that the Bennett government is putting the papers in order again, and perhaps restructuring the negotiating team, and Tal’s resignation, and his statements confirm this.”

Shtern believes that the current government, headed by Naftali Bennett, does not have a clear policy to deal with the file of prisoners and missing persons, as well as with the Gaza Strip, but it is also governed by the shock of the Shalit deal.” Because of the government’s fragility, he believes that it will continue to manage the Gaza crisis file until the next military confrontation.

to reject

Ron Ben-Yishai, a military analyst in Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper, seemed less critical of the Israeli government over the failure of the swap deal with Hamas.

Ben Yishai believes that Israel is interested in a prisoner deal, but the one obstructing this is the head of Hamas in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, “who is still searching for a picture of victory to complete what his movement achieved in the recent military operation on the Strip.”

The military analyst believes that the current Israeli government is seeking, through Egyptian mediation, to discuss the number of prisoners in any future deal, the “seriousness of their actions and the period of their sentences,” as well as Gaza reconstruction projects, with the belief that any future deal will be rejected because it harms the security interests of Israel and its citizens.

On the other hand, he says that Hamas seeks to resolve the battle of awareness in its favour, and achieve a moral victory over Israel by concluding an exchange deal that surpasses the “Ahmed Jibril” deal (the mid-1980s) and the Shalit deal (2011), and crowning the new deal with the release of the prisoners of the tunnel in Gilboa Prison. Therefore, “The exchange may be postponed until the next military campaign,” says Ben-Yishai.

The parents of soldier Hadar Goldin said that Lotan's resignation is an indictment against the Netanyahu government's disregard for the fate of the captured soldiers in GazaThe parents of the captured soldier in Gaza, Hadar Golden, said that Israel is doing nothing to get him back (Israeli press)

stuck negotiations

The resignation of the Israeli crew member and his criticism of his government was preceded by a call by senior officers in the occupation army to “take advantage of the relative calm in the Gaza Strip” in order to reach a prisoner exchange deal with Hamas, according to the Walla website.

According to officials in the Israeli security services, negotiations on the prisoner exchange are stuck, as “both sides, Israel and Hamas, are not ready to compromise and pay the price in exchange for the deal being implemented.”

The family of the captured soldier in Gaza, Hadar Golden, commented on the officer’s resignation and the information he revealed by saying that it “consolidates what we have said 7 years ago; Israel does nothing to bring back fighters who were left on the battlefield, and this should upset any parent whose children join the army. Israeli”.

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