Prisoner Swaps 44

I am ganuinely glad to see Gilad Shalit go home, and to see so many Palestinians reunited with their families. In conflict resolution we tend to refer to such events as “confidence building measures”, and there is no doubt that prisoner releases have to be a part of any eventual solution to the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. But this is hardly an unprecedented event – I can remember three or four similar ones, with no long term effect. Still, on balance a good thing.

I find the wall to wall media coverage so laughably one-sided that I am surprisingly relaxed about it. Anybody likely to be paying the slightest attention to a news channel is going to know some background on the Israeli occupation and the plight of the Palestinians, so the ludicrous one-sidedness of the BBC and Sky News is much more likely to provoke derision than to have the desired propaganda effect.

I had the peculiar thought this morning that the crazed extremism of the Netanyahu government, with their walls and accelerated settlement building, may not be a bad thing in the long term. Another year or two of this kind of land grab and a two state solution will become patently impractical, and unacceptable to all Palestinians. As someone who has always favoured a single, secular democratic state in Israel/Palestine, I am hopeful that the two state idea, which is a Zionist trap into which well meaning but despairing liberals fell, will lose support when it becomes clear that the proposed Palestinian state is becoming an ever shrinking, increasingly disconnected series of tiny waterless and resourceless bantustans.

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44 thoughts on “Prisoner Swaps

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  • havantaclu

    Craig – I wish I could share your optimism re a single, secular, democratic state in Israel/Palestine.

    Unless there is an overwhelming change of heart on the Israeli side, I cannot believe that this will ever come about. Agreed that the two-state solution can’t be acceptable – it wasn’t for nothing that Israel was a staunch supporter of the apartheid regime in South Africa. She has just carried out that Bantustan solution – and unlike world opinion regarding the South African apartheid regime, will almost certainly get away with it.

    And by the way, have you received a reply from the British Ambassador to Israel yet?

  • Komodo

    CFI *insisted* that Hamas release Shalit. The wording highlights the importance of a single IDF squaddie as opposed to ca 10,000 Palestinians, some held for decades, many without charge or legal access to this day.

    We the undersigned call for the immediate release of Corporal Gilad Shalit. On June 25 2006, Shalit was abducted by Hamas militants in a pre-meditated cross-border terrorist attack inside Israel. Captured at the age of 19, the young solider has been held in isolation ever since and is neither permitted to send or receive messages from his family.

    Shalit’s detention is a serious violation of international humanitarian laws governing the treatment of prisoners of war, as enshrined by the Third Geneva Convention. Throughout his captivity Shalit has been denied the most basic of rights. This cruel and inhumane treatment is a blatant and direct contravention of the Third Geneva Convention.
    [you mean, like white phosphorus shells over residential areas and military reprisals against civilians? – K]
    We, insist that Hamas immediately release Gilad Shalit, and before it does so, afford him the right of communication with his family and unfettered access for the International Committee of the Red Cross to ensure his well-being.”
    List of Tory signatories also here:

  • arsalan

    Craig it is true that the two nation solution is offering the Palestinians what blacks had in South Africa.

    But there is no way the Zionists will agree to being equal citizens in a country. If they wanted equality, they would have remained in, France, Russia, America and the UK where they had it.
    The reason why they created Zionism, and invaded Palestine was they wanted something more than equality.

    So the only way to get equality is to enforce equality.
    And that will come from the outside, and not from the Israeli electorate. It will come from the reunification of the middle east back in to what it was before the British and French invaded and imposed the borders that exist now. And once this is done, the reunification of Palestine back in to what it was before the British cut it off will continue.
    And this imposition will come from the people of the middle east.
    And when they do, it is up to them, the people of the region what they rule by.
    Not you.
    It is up to you to decide how the UK is ruled, and it is up to the Palestinians how Palestine is ruled.

  • Jon

    @Donny – the Guardian reports that Shalit has said on Egyptian TV that “I hope this deal would contribute to the peace between Israel and Palestinians …I will be happy if all the [Palestinian] prisoners are free. It would give me great happiness.”

  • Martin Peters

    Re the single state, I note that 1.1 million Arabs already have the vote in Israel. I don’t recall any Jews having the vote in the Palestinian territories. In fact, Israel is one of the few Middle Eastern states where Arab women have the right to vote!

    The voting rights are equal and Arab MPs sit in the Knesset. Currently, they are outnumbered by the Jews, but, with the Arab birth rate far outstripping the Jewish one, the gap will close. Israel is importing more Jews from around the world to avoid the inevitable, although this will actually assist the integration process as Jews from abroad will be far more cosmopolitan than the locals. Meanwhile, Arabs outside Israel have few if any rights to vote and that includes the men. Hence the Arab Spring.

    The big issue in Israel is religion and not race; principally, the Arab world’s desire to wipe the Jews off the face of the earth. Of course, Israelis (the original ones from the region) and the Palestinians are ethnically close. They are all Semites and the Arab attitude is difficult to understand until you remember that the goal is the global supremacy of Islam, which has consequences reaching far beyond the borders of Israel.

  • Komodo

    Counting votes is a can of worms in Israel.

    First it helps to define what Israel actually is.

    And of course, Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank have the vote! The Palestinians in their Bantustans…well…

    “On 8 May 2005, The Israeli ministerial committee for issues of legislation once again amended the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law, to restrict citizenship and residence in Israel only to Palestinian men over the age of 35, and Palestinian women over the age of 25. Those in favor of the law say the law not only limits the possibility of the entrance of terrorists into Israel, but, as Ze’ev Boim asserts, allows Israel “to maintain the state’s democratic nature, but also its Jewish nature” (i.e. its Jewish demographic majority).[36] Critics, including the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination,[37] say the law disproportionately affects Arab citizens of Israel, since Arabs in Israel are far more likely to have spouses from the West Bank and Gaza Strip than other Israeli citizens.[38]”

    And it is somewhat disturbing that you propose as Israel’s benchmark, the state of democracy in, say Gaza, rather than that in the *civilised* West.

    But I am sure Avigdor would agree with you.

  • David Mitchell

    Note Gilad looks sick and undernourished the arab prisoners look well fed and healthy,One picture is worth a thousand words.Arsalan you obviously have no grip on reality.

  • mary

    I see that we have some new visitors!
    David Mitchell. Gilad is alive unlike 1.5 million Palestinians.
    Approximately 1.5 million Palestinian civilians have died since 1948, including the victims of the ethnic cleansing campaigns in the west in 1948-50 and in the east since 1967. Civilian deaths have escalated dramatically in recent years since the zionists developed their obsession with the Palestinian birth-rate,and children are often the target. There is only a small fine for killing a Palestinian in cold blood. It’s based on a weapons charge, not murder. To understand the genocidal character of this vile regime,one need only glance at the responses from Zionists; at least half advocate or at least imply approval of the killing of non-jews. Advocating genocide is by the way a reportable offence on Y/A. Aproximately 2000 civilian Palestinians are killed each year. If you are Jewish and you shoot an 8-year-old Palestinian girl in cold blood, you will have your weapons license revoked for three months and pay a fine equivalent to 50-100 dollars U.S. It’s considered by the “government” to be more or less the same thing as shooting squirrels within city limits with a .22 would be in America. Zionists love to murder Palestinian children and they do it all the time. The military handles the mass-murders. We are not talking about suicide bombers or militants; those figures fall into another category. I am referring to wanton killing of civilians.
    Pappe,Itan. “The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine” (Oxford,2003).
    Amnesty Internation Annual Report (years 2000-2007).
    Hass,Amira. “Drinking the Waters at Gaza” (1996).
    Many more have been killed since those quotes were written, espeially during the greater Shoah known as Cast Lead.

  • mary

    ‘Anybody likely to be paying the slightest attention to a news channel is going to know some background on the Israeli occupation and the plight of the Palestinians, so the ludicrous one-sidedness of the BBC and Sky News is much more likely to provoke derision than to have the desired propaganda effect.’
    Not really true as anyone who has manned a PSC stall will know. Most of the general public have not got a clue about the Occupation and do not know the difference between Israel and Palestine. The location of Gaza and who lives there also draws a blank. In any case, nearly all think that Israel makes deserts bloom and that the place is full of kibbutzes.

  • mary

    The Schalits live in Mitzpe Hila, which is a communal town in northern Israel. Located in the western Galilee hills near the Lebanese border, if falls under the jurisdiction of Ma’ale Yosef Regional Council. The village was established in 1980 as part of the Lookouts in the Galilee plan, with residents initially living in prefabricated homes imported from South Africa. It was originally named Mitzpe Ziv after Har Ziv, the mountain on which it was built. However, it was later renamed Mitzpe Hila. (Wikipedia entry written by Zionists)

    This is the 1946 partition map which shows clearly that Acre was an Arab ‘state’ as it was described then.

  • Arsalan

    David Mitchell

    I have a grip of the reality which makes the likes of you scream Anti-Semitism to try and shut me up.

    You want to see starvation, take a look at near enough every Arab child living under the Israeli blockade of Gaza, and much of the West Bank.

    The War Criminal Gilad spent a few years in confinement. He was a captured soldier. But everyone every Arab and Gaza and the West bank are in Israeli confinement and most were born in to Israeli confinement.

    The War Criminal Gilad was feed. If he hadn’t been, he would have been dead. Food needed for the Palestinians starving under the Israeli blockade was diverted to feed that war criminal.
    I Wasn’t there with him to see how much he was given. But when all of Palestine is liberated, and he is captured a second time. I can guarantee there will be much more food available to feed him while he awaits sentencing for being part of the Nazi Army of Israel.

  • Arsalan


    David Mitchell

    Do you have any dietary requirements that the Pan-Islamic Khilafah needs to keep in mind when the Middle East is reunified with Jerusalem as its capital?

    You need to tell us now so preparations can be made. Otherwise don’t complain about being as skinny as Gilad due to not liking the food we give you when you come to the end of your sentence for your crimes against humanity.

  • DonnyDarko

    Martin,you should visit Israel and see how these 1,1 million with the vote are better than blacks in the Southern states.They have apartheid there.Then there are the Bedouin.. lots of them who used to roam the Negev freely,but now that is forbiddene.They are the only true Semites of the region.I would call the Israeli’s Anti Semite !! I don’t think they have or want the vote.they’ve lived there since JC ran around in his flowing robes and wellies.
    As for Islam wanting to wipe Jews off the face of the earth… what nonsense.Islam looks upon Jews and Christians as children of Abraham.The Jews in Iran are valued members of the society.Religion is not the main problem. It’s actually very Northern Ireland.Protestants were given Catholic lands… European Jews were given half of Palestine as a homeland… just half mind , they’ve been driving the indigenous majority out ever since !! And before the terrorists began their work in Palestine, there was peace between the 90% Arab and 10% jew population.The Jewish settlers in the west bank are the most extreme of Israeli’s and are living in illegal settlements.How can they legally get the vote in a country the US refuses to allow to exist ?
    Go visit Israel, it’s not the Disneyland for Arabs you seem to think.

  • Tom Welsh

    I hope I shan’t be written off as hopelessly racist if I note that Jews have a long-standing reputation for driving a hard bargain.

    In this instance, presumably that means they believe one Israeli soldier is worth at least as much as 1,000 Palestinians (and perhaps a good deal more).

    Is that something that anyone should be concerned about?

  • Lilian El-Doufani

    Firstly, the Palestinians who have been locked up by Israel have often done nothing wrong and they do not face charges or trial. They are certainly not all suicide bombers. Many hundreds of prisoners are below 16 years old.
    Secondly, many hundreds of the Palestinians released via this deal are being deported to Turkey and elsewhere – away from their homeland. Who else in the world does that? Why do they have to leave their families and homes after being released via this deal? I don’t think it is fair. It is yet another huge compromise the Palestinians have made. Normally, you finish a sentence and get released and then go home. i.e. You’ve paid your dues.
    Thirdly, Palestinians in Israel may vote but studies have shown how little Israeli Palestinians get from the taxes they pay Israel. What about no taxation without representation. Arab representatives in the Knesset are abused and bullied. Schools get poorer funding.
    Fourthly, Palestinians will also have their homes arbitrarily demolished – not because they are suicide bombers or anything like that. It costs them huge amounts of money to apply for planning permission but they rarely get it. The Israeli Ministries/govt depts mess them about for the fun of it. They lose documents and papers and say another ministry has the file when it doesn’t. They delay and filibuster for years. Then , the Palestinians built because they are desperate. The Israelis post a notice of demolition without a date of implementation – so the Palestinians do not know what date the bulldozers will turn up. Then the Israelis charge them for demolishing their homes.
    Fifthly, Israel steals thousand of dunams of land every year, leaving PAlestinian farmers with nothing.
    Sixthly, Palestinian women are by and large free and educated. Yet the orthodox settler want to see Jewish women relegated to sitting only at the back of the buses. They have lately even made Jewish women buy their tickets at different kiosks from the men because they insist on segregation.
    Seventhly, it is a military occupation, even if you call it a civil administration.
    I am so cross I could go on forever, but I won’t. Anyone with doubts should see the story of one village at
    Who else but Israel would put demolition orders on olive trees and ancient irrigation systems while dumping sewage on Palestinian farmers land. See the above website.

  • angrysoba

    Firstly, the Palestinians who have been locked up by Israel have often done nothing wrong and they do not face charges or trial. They are certainly not all suicide bombers. Many hundreds of prisoners are below 16 years old.

    That’s certainly true and many of the Palestinians should never have been in custody to begin with. That said, there were plenty who were in there for terrorist offences.

  • Uzbek in the UK

    Do you really think that Jews were equal to others in Europe and particularly in Russia? Have you not forgotten Pogroms (violence against Jews in Russia, Ukraine and Belorussia)? My position is that every nation deserves to have national state. Do not get me wrong as I am not apologetic to the discrimination of Arabs in current state of Israel but at the same time I think that Jews deserve to have their own state, although not at an expense of other nations.

  • Jon

    @Angry/Tom, heh! That made me laugh. Having read Tom hereabouts for long enough, I am sure he’s no racist. But the Israelis would have to be terrible negotiators if they were insisting on releasing *more* prisoners in the swap rather than less 🙂
    I think Tom’s point can be better made in noticing that everyone seems to know who Shalit is, but the names of the Palestinians seems to elude the media much more often. If an Israeli is killed or snatched in the dead of night, then the media jumps around about it, but we will often not hear of the Palestinian family shot on the beach by the IDF. The death toll on both sides runs at a ratio of 1:100, last time I checked. So yes, one could say that Palestinians are not afforded the same “value per head” as Israelis. But much of that is media/establishment bias, and thanks to the internet, cracks sometimes show in the facade.
    > That’s certainly true and many of the Palestinians should never have been
    > in custody to begin with. That said, there were plenty who were in there for
    > terrorist offences.
    Yes, agree with that. But they should all be released anyway. Terrorism is wrong on both sides, and of course there are plenty of IDF soldiers who rightfully belong in Palestinian jails. Shalit has paid their dues for all of them, and is likely innocent of their wrongdoings – and got a pretty decent sentencing discount.

  • Uzbek in the UK

    I have read your other posts where you suggested that Zionists have been involved in Holocaust and it is pathetic to me. How could you even suggest this? And how could you suggest that Zionists brought Nazis to power when it is well known that Hitler came to power thanks to rather polite and well educated Gentlemen from London and New York who saw Hitler as better alternative to German Communists and to your surprise at that time Jews and their statehood were not an issue. Read some books man. Do not believe in everything you hear in a dark corner.

  • crab

    Is it really true that Gilad Shalit was the Palestinians only Israeli prisoner? What bloody use is ‘The News’ if an internet trawl through the top dozen articles cant turn up how many prisoners are left!

  • Patagonian Joan

    I haven’t seen anyone point out that Shalit was taken for one purpose – to exchange for Palestinians held by Israel – and that if Israel had wanted, and had been willing to make a deal like this earlier, he could have been freed within weeks, instead of years. I wonder if they found it convenient to have him in captivity for a while?
    Either way, what made them change their mind now? Do they want a distraction from Abbas’s statesman-at-the-UN act?

  • Uzbek in the UK

    It is true that ideally there should be one state where both Jews and Arabs can leave together and enjoy equality in rights and responsibilities. But knowing centuries of troubles between these two ethnic groups and adding to this troubles of modern times it is hard to imagine how this single state will emerge. It is also true that current borders of Palestinian state that have been suggested by Abbas are very discriminative towards Arabs and that Arabs will only loose if UN recognise Palestine as a sovereign state. If UN recognises this proposal then any further attempts by Arabs to make any amendments to the Palestinians national border will not only be opposed by Israel and US but will also be illegal.
    It is also true that every attempt to bring both sides to peace was undermined by narrow interest of participants and particularly those who played so called ‘impartial’ role. I am afraid that until there is oil in the Middle East Palestinian problem will not be resolved and if any resolution will emerge it will not be in favour of Arabs until Arabs (and I mean all Arabs) will not start acting as a single force.

  • mary

    Ms Sophie Long the recent visitor to Israel courtesy of BICOM and the Israeli government is doing her duty for the Israeli state on BBC News at the moment as Gilad Shalit is delivered to Mitzpe Hila in one of the helicopters usually used to blast the guts of the Palestinians. All beamed live to the waiting world.

  • jungle

    “I had the peculiar thought this morning that the crazed extremism of the Netanyahu government, with their walls and accelerated settlement building, may not be a bad thing in the long term. Another year or two of this kind of land grab and a two state solution will become patently impractical”

    I believe Marx called this approach ‘deepening the contradictions’. It’s tempting but very hazardous. It depends how entrenched people are in their beliefs.

    When US forces were exposed as using torture, many reacted with horror and disbelief; however the ‘true believer’ types didn’t react by condemning their leaders: instead they developed an even more intense hate complex against Muslims so they could believe torturing them was a good thing and maintain their hero-worship of the military. As a result of the large numbers of these people, both pro-torture and vicious anti-Muslim views have become normalised in the USA, with Obama tolerating continued torture of detainees, and even supposedly ‘liberal’ politicians terrified to weigh in on the side of Muslims in any dispute.

  • mary

    Long’s co-presenter is Ben Brown who gave Jody McIntyre, a vocal supporter of the Palestinian cause, such a bad time when Jody had been tipped out of his wheelchair at the student protest and which caused an outcry, so much so, that the BBC had to apologize. Long and Brown’s double act is absolutely revolting as they parrot the Zionist script fresh from Kensington Green.*

    An e-mail in this afternoon –
    Anyone recall what our POW’s looked like? That is, the ones that survived the Japanese. Those in German POW camps fared moderately well until the whole country was starving. I have never heard such filth from the BBC. The linguists are very busy – ‘kidnapped’. Long interview with an eloquent and vicious Israeli at the end of World at One. Lost daughter Mila in the Pizza bombing. Shalit was a POW, part of a tank troop that had been shelling the civilians of Gaza. A war crime. Almost every time I have been there – (11) they have been shelling. The dust from the tank tracks can be seen. When …. and I were there in 2008 – the shells were landing in small fields about 300 yards away. The walls of the doctor’s office were cracked from previous explosions. The scourge.
    *location of Israeli Embassy

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