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July 29, 2006
They're Not With Us, Volume II

A week ago, Hamas went out of its way to disassociate itself with Hezbollah in Lebanon, leaking to the press that they understood the danger of linking its conflict with the Iranian/Syrian proxy in the north. Later, however, they floated an idea to team up with Hezbollah on prisoner swaps. Today, Mahmoud Abbas explicitly rejects that sentiment, announcing that they will not work with Hezbollah on negotiations:

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Saturday his government has no intention of teaming up with Shi'ite Hizboullah on negotiating the release of Palestinian and Lebanese prisoners held by Israel. ...

Hamas had raised the possibility this week of teaming up with Hizbullah to negotiate terms to release of Palestinian and Lebanese prisoners in Israel in exchange for the three IDF soldiers.

But Abbas said the situations were too different to coordinate a release.

"Our brothers in Lebanon have their own special case ... and we have our special case," he said while in Alexandria to meet with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

That's the good news. The bad news is that, according to Abbas, Israel has agreed in principle to release Palestinian prisoners first in a trade for Gilad Shalit. Abbas said that the releases had to fit certain parameters: wonen, "children" (likely teenage rockthrowers or worse), the sick and elderly, and most importantly, people the Israelis would not be releasing under other circumstances. In the last such swap, Abbas complained that a large number of the prisoners had served their full sentences already.

The Israelis are making a mistake if they agree to this, unless it comes with the complete disarming of all militias and an agreement by Hamas to recognize Israel and to honor past agreements. Paying the Danegeld only ensures that the Danes will not depart, as the proverb states. Prisoner swaps should come at the end of hostilities and not as the end result of extortion. Israel has done this too often, and the result has always been more abductions. Why does Ehud Olmert think that Hassan Nasrallah felt sanguine enough about his abduction mission to launch it?

Israel's military action put enough pressure on Abbas to keep them from linking with Hezbollah. Giving up now takes them back to square one -- or perhaps even further back. A prisoner swap with no other resolutions to the overall status only endorses more kidnappings and raids.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at July 29, 2006 9:28 AM

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