Israelis petition Supreme Court to stop Gilad Shalit deal
With Gilad Shalit's scheduled release only a day away, Israelis who fear the consequences of releasing the prisoners are making a final push to derail the deal by petitioning the Supreme Court.
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"Israel has let down terror victims,'' says Mr. Bauer, complaining that the Israeli government and media favored the Shalit family over those of the victims of the attacks. "We have been demonized."
Despite Israelis' typical aversion to negotiating with terrorists, when the conflicting sentiments are untangled, the sympathy for Shalit and his family has taken precedence. The result is a lopsided prisoner swap that is the latest in a string of similar trades going back nearly three decades.
One of the most well known is the 1985 swap known as the Jibril Agreement. Israel released 1,150 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the release of three Israeli soldiers being held by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
In a July 2010 press conference about negotiations for Shalit's release, Mr. Netanyahu said of the Jibril Agreement, "almost half of them returned to engage in terror and to murder dozens of Israelis at their own hands. … Moreover, those released in the Jibril deal constituted the solid nucleus of the leadership of the first intifada, during which hundreds of Israelis lost their lives in suicide and terror attacks.
Therefore, the decision to release terrorists is a difficult and complex one for any government. We are not only talking about saving lives but also about endangering many lives." (See full remarks here.)
It's a price that Israelis have become resigned to, says Dahlia Scheindlin, an Israeli public opinion expert.
The deal is "drudging up the worst memories from a terrible period. That's obviously hard for everyone. But the consensus is that we knew this was going to happen and that we lost the battle already. … There is no mass protest against this,'' she says.
The nationwide identification with the trauma of Shalit's family, which waged a public information campaign that made their son a household name, trumps fears of future attacks and the sense of injustice toward past victims, Ms. Scheindlin says: "In Israel, the present is always more important than the future. They are weighing a live soldier in captivity against the future risk of letting people out.''