Olmert Gov't Acts To Free Terrorists for Soldiers, Dead or Alive

The Olmert administration is advancing proposals to free terrorists to secure the release of kidnapped IDF soldiers, two of whom are feared dead.

Pinchas Sanderson and Hana Levi Julian , | updated: 09:28

IDF captives Shalit, Regev and Goldwasser
IDF captives Shalit, Regev and Goldwasser

Ofer Dekel, the Israeli negotiator for kidnapped and missing soldiers, will present Thursday morning new proposals towards the release of captive IDF Cpl. Gilad Shalit to the head of Egyptian intelligence, General Omar Suleiman. The Egyptian official is expected to meet with representatives of the Hamas terrorist organization next week.

Israel, which officially does not recognize Hamas, will hold talks with the terrorist organization through Egyptian mediators. Hamas has demanded that Israel release hundreds of terrorists for Shalit, who was kidnapped two years ago. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said at the time that Israel would not agree to the release of Arab prisoners, and he threatened to strike at senior Hamas figures if Shalit was not freed. 

Latest Proposal Includes 150 Terrorists with 'Blood on Their Hands'
Israel's latest proposal includes an agreement to free 150 terrorists with "blood on their hands," on the condition they do not return to the Palestinian Authority territories, Voice of Israel government radio reported Thursday morning. The proposed release of the murderers would be part of a larger deal that would include nearly 1,000 terrorists and other Palestinian Authority prisoners in exchange for Shalit.

Egypt has opposed the condition attached to the inclusion of the terrorists with "blood on their hands."

Cabinet Deliberations on Hizbullah Deal Set for Sunday
Government sources also stated that Israel and Hizbullah have reached a written “framework agreement” towards freeing terrorists for the release of captive IDF soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev. The Cabinet is set to deliberate on the agreement Sunday. If it is approved, it will be conveyed to Beirut by German intermediaries for Hizbullah's approval. Prime Minister Olmert said that "we will be able to reach the moment of decision with a clear conscience."

After the Hizbullah attack on Israel and the kidnappings in July 2006, Prime Minister Olmert's government authorized the retaliatory Second Lebanon War and vowed it would continue until Goldwasser and Regev were released.

Israel is expected to receive the two soldiers, who most officials say probably are not alive, and in exchange will transfer to Hizbullah four terrorists captured in the 2006 Lebanon War, the remains of eight others buried in Israel, and Lebanese Druze terrorist Samir Kuntar. Hizbullah is also expected, as part of the deal, to send a report detailing the fate of captive Israel Air Force navigator Ron Arad, missing in action since 1986.

Veteran Mossad Chief Maj.-Gen. (res.) Meir Dagan is a vocal opponent of the proposed deal. In a meeting on Tuesday night with the Regev family, Dagan told them that Israel has reliable intelligence information that the two captive soldiers are not alive.