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November 10, 2003
Even If It Succeeds, It Fails

It's difficult to understand Israel's thinking when it commits to lopsided prisoner swaps with terrorist groups:

About 400 Palestinians and several dozen prisoners from Lebanon, Syria, Morocco, Sudan and Libya would be released in exchange for Israeli businessman Elhanan Tannenbaum and the bodies of three Israeli soldiers, all captured in October 2000.

I have always believed that negotiating with terrorists on this basis is a sure way to incentivize them to continue their operations, especially in 400-1 ratios. The plan may fail anyway, as there is strong disagreement over terms:

However, Nasrallah has said the deal would not go through without Samir Kantar, a Palestinian from Lebanon. Kantar stormed an apartment in the northern Israeli city of Nahariya in 1979, killing a man and his daughter. Another daughter died when her mother smothered her while trying to hide. ... Mohammed Fneish, a Hezbollah legislator, said the group would try to kidnap more Israelis if the deal breaks down. "If the pressure cards we have ... are not sufficient to convince the Israeli enemy's government to respect the freedom of our detainees ..., the Hezbollah command will definitely search for means to force the Israeli enemy's government to release our detainees," he told Al Manar TV.

How successful has negotiation with Hezb' Allah been for Israel? Israel has carried out these swaps before; as the article concludes, they've released "thousands" of prisoners for the return of a handful of Israelis. We tried negotiating with terrorists in Lebanon in the 80s; it didn't work for us, and when we stopped negotiating, they got bored and stopped kidnapping Americans. Hezb' Allah is unlikely to become bored with terrorizing Israelis, to be sure, but Israel at least can keep it from being profitable.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at November 10, 2003 8:17 AM

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