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Israeli opposition criticizes prisoner swap deal

Israel Materials 23 October 2011 16:15
Israel's opposition leader on Sunday criticized the prisoner exchange deal between the government and Hamas, saying it weakened the country's "power of deterrence" and strengthened the Islamist Palestinian movement.
Israeli opposition criticizes prisoner swap deal

Israel's opposition leader on Sunday criticized the prisoner exchange deal between the government and Hamas, saying it weakened the country's "power of deterrence" and strengthened the Islamist Palestinian movement, DPA reported.

Israel on Tuesday freed 477 Palestinian militants in exchange for Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier held for more than five years by Hamas. It is to free another 550 Palestinian prisoners in some two months as part of the deal.

"Israel today is weaker and Hamas is stronger," Tzipi Livni, opposition leader and head of the centrist Kadima party, told Israel Radio.

She accused the "ultra-right government" of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, of the nationalist Likud party, of strengthening the radical Islamists, instead of opting to negotiate with the "moderate forces" among the Palestinians.

She urged Netanyahu to coordinate the release of the second wave of prisoners with moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas rather than his Fatah party's main rival Hamas.

Abbas refuses to negotiate with the Netanyahu government, unless it freezes all Israeli construction in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Transport Minister Israel Katz, of the Likud, charged Livni had no right to criticize the prisoners deal, because it was carried out according to the parameters set by the previous government of which she was a leading member.

On Saturday, left his home in the northern village of Mitzpeh Hila for the first time since his release, travelling to a nearby beach with his father.

Israeli newspapers published photographs of the two sitting on the beach. Noam Shalit has said his son, who was held in isolation for most of his time in captivity, suffered from malnutrition and that the lack of exposure to sunlight had affected his health.

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