Monday, May 19, 2008

Israel to Hezbollah: Forget Palestinian prisoners in swap for IDF soldiers - Haaretz - Israel News

Ofer Dekel, who Prime Minister Ehud Olmert appointed to conduct the talks for Israel, frequently meets with Konrad in Europe.
Israel recently asked Konrad to give Hezbollah what
it termed its "final offer": In exchange for the two soldiers, or their
bodies if they are dead, Israel will release Lebanese prisoners. Israel
would also return the bodies of Hezbollah members buried in Israel, but
would not release any Palestinians.

"From Israel's perspective, we have reached the outermost limits of
the negotiations," the senior official said. "The ball is now in
Hezbollah's court, and it must make a decision."

Throughout the talks, Hezbollah has insisted that Israel release
thousands of Palestinians in addition to the Lebanese prisoners. But
this would strengthen the radical Shi'ite organization's standing among
Palestinians and the Arab world as a whole, which Israel does not want
to do, the official explained.

If Hezbollah insists on including Palestinian prisoners, the
official added, that will bring about "an end to the negotiations
because there will no longer be anything to talk about." In that case,
Israel would have to consider classifying Regev and Goldwasser not as
MIAs but as fallen soldiers whose place of burial is unknown....

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