Gilad Shalit's release from Hamas's clutches -- winners and losers

Israelis understandably are rejoicing about the pending release of Sgt. Gilad Shalit, the soldier kidnapped five years ago by Hamas in a cross-border ambush off Gaza.

As of this writing, Prime Minister Netanyahu has called Shalit's parents to inform them that their son will be coming home in a few days. After lengthy debate, the cabinet approved the deal by a vote of 26 to 3.   Reports indicate that Israel will free as many as 1,000 Palestinian prisoners, many of them convicted of terrorist acts.
 
There's no question but that Israel will be paying a high price for Shalit's freedom.  Many of the Palestinians who will be freed pose an undoubted security risk to the Jewish state.  But this trumped the vast emotional longings for Shalit's freedom in a country where almost all families have current or past members in the military.
 
For Israel, despite the immediate joy, Shalit's return will not be an unalloyed blessing.  Israel can expect renewed interntional pressures to deal with Hamas on other matters -- never mind that Israel's mantra -- like America's -- has been that it won't do business with terrorists.  Israel just did -- via Egyptian and German mediators..
 
A bigger loser is Mahmoud Abbas.  The head of the Palestinian Authority has been riding a popularity wave for going to the UN to seek recogntion of Palestinian statehood.  But that symbolic endeavor pales with the more concrete success of Hamas in forcing Israel to release a thousand Palestinians prisoners, some of whom reportedly hail from the Abbas-ruled West Bank.  Hamas now will be crowing to the Palestinian masses that its tactic -- terrorisim -- yields more important concrete results than Abbas's theatrics.
 
Of the three main parties involved -- Israel, Abbas and Hamas -- the latter definitely is a bigger winner than the other two.  Designated as a terrorist organization by the U.S., the European Union and, of course, by Israel, Hamas nevertheless is bound to gain in prestige among rank-and-file Palestinians.
 
And that's bad news for what's left of the peace process.  Because with a fading Abbas and a rising Hamas, there's definitely nothing to negotiate about.

UPDATE


Israelis understandably are rejoicing about the pending release of Sgt. Gilad Shalit, the soldier kidnapped five years ago by Hamas in a cross-border ambush off Gaza.

As of this writing, Prime Minister Netanyahu has called Shalit's parents to inform them that their son will be coming home in a few days. After lengthy debate, the cabinet approved the deal by a vote of 26 to 3.   Reports indicate that Israel will free as many as 1,000 Palestinian prisoners, many of them convicted of terrorist acts.
 
There's no question but that Israel will be paying a high price for Shalit's freedom.  Many of the Palestinians who will be freed pose an undoubted security risk to the Jewish state.  But this trumped the vast emotional longings for Shalit's freedom in a country where almost all families have current or past members in the military.
 
For Israel, despite the immediate joy, Shalit's return will not be an unalloyed blessing.  Israel can expect renewed interntional pressures to deal with Hamas on other matters -- never mind that Israel's mantra -- like America's -- has been that it won't do business with terrorists.  Israel just did -- via Egyptian and German mediators..
 
A bigger loser is Mahmoud Abbas.  The head of the Palestinian Authority has been riding a popularity wave for going to the UN to seek recogntion of Palestinian statehood.  But that symbolic endeavor pales with the more concrete success of Hamas in forcing Israel to release a thousand Palestinians prisoners, some of whom reportedly hail from the Abbas-ruled West Bank.  Hamas now will be crowing to the Palestinian masses that its tactic -- terrorisim -- yields more important concrete results than Abbas's theatrics.
 
Of the three main parties involved -- Israel, Abbas and Hamas -- the latter definitely is a bigger winner than the other two.  Designated as a terrorist organization by the U.S., the European Union and, of course, by Israel, Hamas nevertheless is bound to gain in prestige among rank-and-file Palestinians.
 
And that's bad news for what's left of the peace process.  Because with a fading Abbas and a rising Hamas, there's definitely nothing to negotiate about.

UPDATE


RECENT VIDEOS