Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Schalit deal imminent

From THE JERUSALEM POST Dec. 21, 2009, by Haviv Rettig Gur:

The inner cabinet ...met into the night Monday in ...a final marathon discussion on the prisoner-swap deal that would end Schalit's Gaza captivity.

Gilad Schalit
According to sources close to the deliberations, the proposal to release some 950 Hamas gunmen and activists, some of whom have been convicted of fatal terrorist attacks, for the 23-year-old soldier was expected to gain approval by the forum, after which it would be presented to the full 30-member cabinet.

"There's a wide majority in support of the swap at this stage," a senior political source said.

......If the forum approves the agreement, it must gain the approval of the full cabinet, after which a 48-hour delay will set in for citizens' appeals to the High Court of Justice against the deal. Only then would it go into effect.

The timeline for a full cabinet meeting is unclear, though rumors circulated that ministers were asked to remain in Jerusalem late Monday to be able to participate in a full vote.

The exchange deal has its passionate supporters and critics, with both top security officials and terror victims' families coming down on both sides of the debate.

According to sources, IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, ...supports a swap. But Mossad chief Meir Dagan and Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) head Yuval Diskin have expressed grave reservations over some parts of the deal, believing that many of the released terrorists would constitute a serious security threat to Israelis.

...Aviva Schalit, the soldier's mother, called the vote by the inner cabinet vote a question of life or death for her son. "I hope they decide today. Everyone who votes must realize their vote means either a death sentence for Gilad or his release," she told Army Radio on Monday morning...
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