Anatomy of a Deal

(Ynet News) Ron Ben-Yishai - Both IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen Benny Gantz and Israel Security Agency (ISA) Chief Yoram Cohen declared recently that they were unable to offer the government a viable plan that would enable Israel to extract Shalit successfully and that a prisoner exchange deal was the only way to ensure his release. Cohen promised the prime minister that the ISA would be able to monitor the "heavyweight" prisoners who would be allowed to return to the West Bank. The negotiations lasted for five years and four months. Some would argue that a similar agreement could have been secured a year or two ago, yet this is doubtful. While the agreement constitutes painful Israeli capitulation, Israel apparently managed to secure some of its demands. The fate of the talks was in the hands of Egypt's military rulers. Israeli officials were gravely concerned that this regime could lose its ability to serve as mediator within a few months and come under the Muslim Brotherhood's influence. This is the "window of opportunity" officials in Jerusalem spoke of. This window could have been closed, given further upheaval in the Arab world. The substantive fear that the arch-terrorists to be released would restore Hamas' West Bank infrastructure will now force the ISA and IDF to significantly boost their anti-terror operations and security deployment in Judea and Samaria while requiring greater manpower and additional resources. Moreover, Israel will have to toughen its security demands in the framework of talks with Abbas.

2011-10-12 00:00:00

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