Israel not to conclude second unequal refugee exchange deal: experts

Israel not to conclude second unequal refugee exchange deal: experts

Azerbaijan, Baku, Feb. 24 / Trend , U.Sadigova/

 Israeli official Amos Gilad's criticism towards Tel Aviv's position on talks with Hamas will not impact on Israel's terms, because, the price that Israel is to pay to the Hamas in the negotiations is too high, experts said.

In exchange for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit Hamas demands to release 1,400 Palestinian prisoners, who are accused of terrorist acts against Israel, and to lift the blockade of the Gaza Strip. Shalit was captured in 2006.

"The release of a large number of Palestinian prisoners will be seen as a success for Hamas. That may be a price that the Israeli cabinet is not willing to pay," East Anglia University lector Nicola Pratt wrote to Trend in an email.

Israeli Defense Ministry Military-Political Department head and Israeli government's representative at the talks with Hamas in Egypt Amos Gilad was removed from office on Feb. 23.

The official was removed from office at request of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in response to criticism towards Israeli government's demands to release Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in exchange for a truce with Hamas.

In an interview with Israeli newspaper Maariv, Amos Gilad said that "Olmert had demanded to release Shalit even before a truce was concluded with Hamas. Therefore, Prime Minister's sudden intervention in the negotiations is detrimental to the truce and Israel's relations with Egypt".

Previously, it was assumed that a deal on release of Shalit will be go separately from negotiations on a truce with Hamas. But last week Olmert said that Shalit's release is an important condition for a truce with Hamas.
The truce provides for a ceasefire between Hamas and Israel over 18 months. Egypt, the main mediator in the talks, expressed displeasure against Israel due to changes in the truce terms.

"In the last moment, Israel has put forward new terms that are contrary to Egypt and Palestine's position and undermine the truce," RIA News quoted Hamas representative Fawzi Barhoum.
In addition to Gilad's removal from office, the government made an accusation against him.

Removing Amos Gilad is a sign that Israel is not serious about lifting the blockade before releasing its captured soldier Gilad Shalit, AlAhram Strategic Research Centre leading political scientist Khalil AlAnani said.

 "Hamas does not want to link between the truce and Shalit and Israel insists on that, so it's complicated," AlAnani wrote to Trend in an email.

In these talks, Israel is compelled to negotiate with the weak leadership of Hamas and in the case of a truce to release terrorists from prison [Palestinian prisoners], Bar-Ilan University analyst for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict Hillel Frisch said.

"The price for a truce with Hamas is too high for Israel, which has to release ex-terrorists," Frisch told Trend in a telephone conversation.
 This is the second unequal deal between Israel and Hamas. In summer, Israel exchanged former terrorist Samir Kunatra and four other Hezbollah members for bodies of soldiers Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser.

The unequal deal with the Lebanese party entailed sharp criticism from the Israeli society, but Prime Minister Ehud Olmert described the exchange as an end to war with Hezbollah, which started in 2006.

Israel would prefer to see an end to Hamas and to see Fateh in charge of the Palestinian territories, said Pratt.

 After Hamas won the 2006 parliamentary elections, Palestinian administration's head Mahmoud Abbas announced dissolution of the government. As a result of clashes between Hamas and the ruling Fatah party in 2007, Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip. Israel, which withdrew troops from the enclave in 2005, closed all Gaza's borders, leading to a humanitarian catastrophe in the region.
In response to Hamas's rocket attacks, Israel launched a 22-day military operation in Gaza with a death toll of 1,300 Palestinians.

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