Friday, October 2, 2009

ANALYSIS / Shalit video means a deal with Hamas is a question of when, not if - Makes road easier for Netanyahu

(Avi Issacharoff , Haaretz).Thousands more words will be written in an attempt to analyze the video in which Gilad Shalit was seen by the Israeli public for the first time since he was abducted by Hamas in a cross-border raid on June 25th, 2006, but only two words are necessary: he's healthy.

It's difficult to say what his emotional state is and how his captors are treating him, but he appears well-shaven, clean-cut, and well put-together.

More than anything else, it appears that the video was intended not only to give testimony to Shalit's condition, being that Israeli security services were already aware that he is in good physical condition.

The video will pave Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's road to a painful and difficult prisoner exchange with Hamas for Shalit, a deal that will include the release of some of the most dangerous prisoners in Israel's hands.

Even before the release of the video, it was difficult for Netanyahu to hear public voices saying that Israel is not allowed to pay a hefty price for Shalit's freedom. The Israeli media was part and parcel of this campaign. Nonetheless, at the moment, after the release of the video, it's possible to declare that no public leader will not take measures to scuttle a deal at any price for Shalit.

Netanyahu, who Shalit mentioned by name in the video, can be pleased by the video. He won't find dissenters in the government or the media to a plan to release hundreds of terrorists for Shalit.

The same goes for Hamas. The organization understood that in order to encourage Israeli support for a deal and to raise the pressure on Jerusalem, they would need to change the nature of negotiations with Israel. The video, which gave a clear sign of life, presents a clear tie-breaker between Israel and Hamas. For now on, the question is not if, but when a deal for Shalit will take place.