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Gov’t: Free 980 Terrorists, Prisoners for Shalit and ‘Goodwill’

by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu

( The government disclosed to the High Court Sunday afternoon that it is offering to free 450 terrorists for the return of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit and another 530 terrorists and prisoners, to be chosen by Israel, as a “goodwill measure.” It asked the court to reject an appeal by terror victims that the government publish details of the emerging proposal.

Statements by the State Prosecutor that it has not compiled a final list of terrorists and has not defined all the criteria for selecting those to be freed indicate that a deal, if one is reached, is not imminent,

The government asked the High Court to reject a petition by the Almagor group, representing terror victims and their families, demanding that the government publish the names and the criteria used for proposing their freedom.

“It is impossible to expand” on further details, government attorneys told the court. They argued, “Publication of details would damage the possibility of returning the soldier [Shalit] alive and well to Israel as soon as possible.”

They also rejected Almagor’s demand that the military censor lift the gag order on publishing details and claimed, “Previous experience teaches that when details of negotiations are discussed in the media, it causes both sides to take more extreme positions that make it harder to bridge and can even destroy the possibility of reaching a deal, meaning the return of the soldier alive and well.”

The censor can also stop publication of information that would affect the price Israel has to pay for the return of Shalit, according to government.

The attorneys told the High Court that both Hamas and Israel have committed themselves to secrecy while a German negotiator continues to mediate the talks.

Shalit was kidnapped more than three years ago, and the government, headed by then prime minister Ehud Olmert, vowed not to enter negotiations for the soldier’s return. The previous government also said it would not sit down with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in talks for a new Arab state within Israel’s current borders until Shalit safely returned home.
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