Shalit Issue Now in Hamas’ Hands

Israel decided that nearly 100 terrorists, to be freed for Shalit, will be deported while seven others will remain in jail. Hamas now must decide.

Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu , | updated: 9:25 AM

Prime Minister Netanyahu
Prime Minister Netanyahu
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and six senior Cabinet ministers have told a German mediator that 100 terrorists must be deported to Arab countries or Gaza before Israel can agree to free nearly 1,000 terrorists and prisoners for the return of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit. A newspaper in Lebanon stated that Qatar and European countries have agreed to accept more than 20 terrorists, and Israel has insisted that most of the others be sent to Gaza instead of Judea and Samaria.

Hamas officials said that the German mediator in negotiations will meet with the terrorist organization on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Netanyahu announced Tuesday, "There is no deal for the release of Gilad Shalit and I don't know if there will be." He in effect has thrown the powder keg of the highly charged issue of Shalit back to Hamas, whose officials stated Tuesday that they cannot accept the idea of deportations. The same issue was a major factor in the Cabinet’s rejection last February of a similar proposal aimed at bringing Shalit back home.

Although most statements from Hamas have come from Gaza, the ultimate decision will be made by Khaled Mashaal, the Syrian-based leader of the terrorist organization. One associate, Beirut-based Hamas leader Osama Hamdan, declared Tuesday night, "Because Hamas, or any other Palestinian faction, cannot agree to the expulsion of Palestinians, we insist that all the prisoners are released to their homes and families."

The government has kept silent on any public statements on the negotiations for the return of Shalit, but most reports indicated that the mini-Cabinet of six ministers and the Prime Minister drew the red line on deporting more than 100 terrorists while refusing to release seven or nine others. Foreign media stated that among them are Marwan Barghouti, sentenced five times to life in prison, and Ahmed Sadat, who assassinated Tourist Minister Rehavam Ze'evi, and three Hamas terrorists.

Israel recently disclosed to the High Court that it might free 960 terrorists and prisoners, many of them  with “blood on their hands,” for involvement in killing dozens of Israelis. Intelligence officials have warned that allowing them to return to their homes in Judea and Samaria might leave the lives of millions of Israelis in danger. Terrorists who previously have been released have murdered nearly 180 Israelis after being freed and promising not to return to terror.