September 18, 2003


Prisoner exchange deal with Hizbullah nearing agreement (Ellis Shuman, September 18, 2003, Israeli Insider)

Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom confirmed that negotiations with Hizbullah on a possible prisoner exchange agreement were at an advanced stage and could possibly be concluded by the High Holidays. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon told family members of captive IAF navigator Ron Arad that Israel's "bargaining chips" might be released soon, although Israel would not receive information on Arad's fate in return.

"We are all hopeful that during the holidays we will be able to relate good news; there is hope," Shalom said on Wednesday.

Security sources confirmed that negotiations with Hizbullah for the release of kidnapped Israeli citizen Elchanan Tannenbaum and the bodies of the three IDF soldiers captured by the organization in October 2000 were at an advanced stage.

Earlier on Wednesday, Hizbullah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah said, "The exchange operation that we are working to achieve will include Lebanese, Jordanians and Syrians regardless of numbers, and definitely Palestinians." Nasrallah said the sides were "about to finish the stage of numbers to get into the names and criteria."

Contrary to the hysteria of the chattering classes, the recent unpleasantness has predictably had no impact on the Road Map. Negotiations have a logic (or illogic) of their own, which is why Israel should skip to the final step and get out.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 18, 2003 9:03 AM
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