Jewish Journal


June 30, 2008

Israel’s ill-conceived prisoner trade


I never expect Commentary to push concessions for peace, but when I read yesterday about Israel’s plan to trade with Hezbollah four prisoners, one a venomous murderer, for two likely dead soldiers, I shared these sentiments:

one might expect Israel’s political leadership–which overwhelmingly approved the deal yesterday–to declare that Israel is achieving some sort of strategic benefit through the prisoner swap. After all, a prisoner swap only becomes a strategic liability when the adversary believes that it could achieve the release of more prisoners–and all the political benefits that come with it–through future kidnapping raids. For this reason, leaders typically spin prisoner swap deals as somehow enhancing their states’ strategic outlook, aiming to undermine support for future raids among the enemy’s constituency.

Yet Ehud Olmert is hardly your typical leader. Indeed, rather than making any argument for Israeli strength in the aftermath of the prisoner swap, Olmert has declared total failure, saying:

There will be much sadness in Israel, much humiliation considering the celebrations that will be held on the other side.

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