By Moshe Arens
There was a time, not so many years ago, when the policy of Israeli governments, when one of its citizens or soldiers was abducted by a terrorist organization, was to send the Israel Defense Forces to free the hostages. It was clear that negotiating with the terrorists and agreeing to their outrageous demands was simply setting the stage for further kidnappings and higher demands in the future. It was a good policy, even though it involved risking the lives of the hostages and of those sent to free them.
When in past years a policy of negotiating with terrorists for the release of hostages was adopted, it only proved the original premise. The terrorists' demands continued to escalate, and each "deal" with them only provided an incentive for further kidnappings and for ever more outrageous demands before the hostages would be released. The terrorists may have released the hostages - dead or alive - but each surrender to their demands only provided an incentive for additional kidnappings of Israelis and escalating demands, and put at risk Israelis, as yet unnamed, whom the terrorists would abduct in the future. In other words, they served as an incentive for the further abduction of Israelis.
In June 2004, under then-prime minister Ariel Sharon and then-defense minister Shaul Mofaz, a deal was struck with Hezbollah for the return of three dead Israeli soldiers - Benny Avraham, Adi Avitan and Omar Suad - and the release of Elhanan Tennenbaum, in return for about 450 convicted terrorists in Israeli prisons. Whereas the three soldiers had been kidnapped while on duty in the IDF, Tennenbaum had been kidnapped while on an illegal trip in
Making decisions in negotiating with terrorists for the release of Israeli hostages is an agonizing matter, and ministers are not to be envied the responsibility they carry on their shoulders. However, certain principles that need to be applied are almost self-evident:
1. Whatever deal is to be struck, it should be done immediately after the kidnapping. (Remember Ron Arad.)
2. The price to be paid for the return of the living is not to be the same as the price for the dead.
3. Remember the Israelis who are being put at risk in the future as a result of giving in to the demands of the terrorists.
It is clear that in the case of the negotiations for the return of IDF soldiers Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, these principles have not been observed. In full knowledge that they have been murdered by Hezbollah, the price that Ehud Olmert and Ehud Barak now seem prepared to pay is scandalous. Samir Kuntar is not just a terrorist "with blood on his hands," but a cold-blooded murderer who killed a small child and her father. If anything, this deal is worse than the Tennenbaum deal.
And now Gilad Shalit. Any fool understands that the Israeli government held one significant lever on Hamas in this case - the continued blockade of
terrorists are asking now that they are holding not only Shalit hostage, but also the residents of
Now that the Olmert government is tottering and seems to about to topple, its spokesmen are insisting that in view of the many dangers
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