Israel Political Brief October 11, 2011: Isreali Government Approves 26-3 Gilad Shalit Release Agreement

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The Government approved the agreement for the release of Gilad Shalit

Source: PMO, 10-11-11

The Government approved the agreement for the release of Gilad Shalit by a large majority of 26 ministers in favor and 3 against. During the discussions outlines were heard by the heads of the security services – Director of the Shin Bet Yoram Cohen, Chief of Staff Benny Gantz , Director of the Mossad Tamir Pardo and the Prime Minister’s special envoy to the negotiations David Meidan. The heads of the security services presented the agreement and its various aspects and expressed their support in it. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: “this is a difficult decision to make, but a leadership is examined in moments like these, in its ability to make difficult decisions. I am bringing Gilad Shalit home, to his parents Noam and Aviva, his brother Yoel, his sister Hadas, his grandfather Zvi, and the people of Israel.”

Israeli Cabinet approves Shalit deal

Source: JTA, 10-11-11

Noam Shalit, the father of captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, reacts at the protest encampment opposite the prime minister's residence in Jerusalem that a deal has been reached for the release of his son, Oct. 11, 2011. (Miriam Alster / Flash90)
Israelis in Jerusalem celebrate the news that an agreement was reached between Israel and Hamas for the release of captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, Oct. 11, 2011. (Miriam Alster / Flash90)
 Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was 19 when he was taken captive in a cross-border raid on the Israel-Gaza line. (Shalit family)
Noam Shalit, the father of captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, reacts at the protest encampment opposite the prime minister’s residence in Jerusalem that a deal has been reached for the release of his son, Oct. 11, 2011. (Miriam Alster / Flash90)

If Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit is freed in the prisoner-exchange deal with Hamas that was approved by Israel’s Cabinet in a 26-3 vote late Tuesday night, it will raise two immediate questions: Which side finally acceded to the other’s demands after years of fruitless negotiations since Shalit was captured in a June 2006 raid along the Israel-Gaza border, and what took so long to get here?

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered some hints about the first issue in a hastily called news conference shortly before going into the special Cabinet meeting. This deal, he suggested, was the best Israel was going to get, so if Israel was ever going to recover Shalit, it had to happen now.

“With everything that is happening in Egypt and the region, I don’t know if the future would have allowed us to get a better deal — or any deal at all for that matter,” Netanyahu said on Israeli television. “The window appeared following fears that collapsing Mideast regimes and the rise of extremist forces would make Gilad Shalit’s return impossible.”

The prime minister added, “If all goes according to plan, Gilad will be returning to Israel in the coming days.”

The deal reportedly was signed by the two sides on Oct. 6 in Cairo following years of negotiations and mediation via the Egyptians. News of the deal was first reported by the satellite TV station Al Arabiya. Its exact contours remain unknown.

Shalit’s release would mark a remarkable end to a five-year saga that has transfixed the Israeli public, frustrated two successive Israeli governments and spanned two wars.

Then a corporal in the Israeli army, Shalit was taken captive at age 19 on June 25, 2006, and almost immediately his family launched an incessant public campaign to free him. The crusade included vigils, marches, meetings, statements by world leaders, celebrity endorsements, bumper stickers, congressional resolutions, songs and a protest encampment opposite the prime minister’s official residence in Jerusalem.

Shalit’s plight struck a chord in the Jewish state and the Jewish world, and Israelis and Jews from all walks of life and political camps took part in activities calling for his release.

It’s not clear whether this public campaign helped usher in the deal announced Tuesday or whether it hindered an agreement from being reached.

Shalit’s family believed that it had to keep up the public pressure on the Israeli government to seal the deal. At the official state Independence Day ceremony last Yom Ha’atzmaut, in May, Shalit’s brother Yoel darted onstage with his girlfriend and a banner reading “Shalit is still alive.” Instead of getting arrested for the stunt on national television broadcast, he got an audience with Israeli opposition leader Tzipi Livni.

But some analysts warned that all the public clamor to free Shalit only made a deal more difficult by increasing the price Hamas demanded for his release. Indeed, for years Israel insisted that the price was too high.

On Tuesday, Time magazine reported that the exchange would include as many as 1,000 Palestinian prisoners – first the 450 named by Hamas, and then 550 named by Israel. The prisoners “will include as many as 315 men convicted of killing hundreds of Israelis in terror attacks,” Time Foreign Editor Tony Karon wrote.

Critics of prisoner-exchange swaps warn that such deal merely encourages Israel’s enemies to capture more Israelis.

Such criticism followed then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s decision in July 2008 to trade five Lebanese prisoners — including notorious murderer Samir Kuntar — and the bodies of 199 others in exchange for the bodies of Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, two Israeli soldiers captured in the border attack by Hezbollah that sparked the 2006 Lebanon War.

Goldwasser and Regev were thought to have been killed in the attack or shortly thereafter, but until the coffins with their bodies arrived on Israeli soil, Israeli officials said they could not know with certainty that they were dead.

Shalit’s case has been a little different. In a video released by his captors in October 2009, a frail but otherwise healthy-looking Shalit held a current newspaper and read a message asking Israeli authorities to conclude an agreement for his release. In all his years in captivity, Shalit was allowed no international or Red Cross visitors.

As Israel’s Cabinet discussed the deal into the wee hours Wednesday morning, the heads of the Israel Defense Forces, the Mossad and the Shin Bet internal security service all reportedly expressed support for the deal. When the matter finally came to a vote, there were only three dissenting ministers: Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and National Infrastructure Minister Uzi Landau of Yisrael Beiteinu, and Vice Prime Minister Moshe Ya’alon of Likud.

Israel Political Brief October 11, 2011: Israel and Hamas Agree to Gilad Shalit Deal

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Israel and Hamas Agree to Shalit Deal

Israel and Hamas reach a tentative agreement on a proposal to exchange Gilad Shalit for 1027 prisoners.

Source: Shalom Life, 10-11-11

According to reports, a deal has been reached to secure the release of captured IDF soldier Gilad Shalit.

The deal to return Shalit – held by Hamas since his capture in June, 2006 in a cross-border raid by Palestinian terrorists – will see Israel release 300 Hamas prisoners within a few days from today (October 11). Then, once Shalit has been transferred from Gaza to Egypt, Israel would release another 150 terrorists, culminating with his safe return to Israel, which would see Israel release another 550 prisoners. 27 Female prisoners will also be released.

The deal reportedly includes about 300 hard-core terrorists, including Marwan Barghouti and Ahmad Saadat. Hamas reportedly intends to release the full list of 1,027 Palestinian prisoners tonight.

“If all goes according to plan, Gilad will be returning to Israel in the coming days,” Mr. Netanyahu said on Israeli television earlier today, a sign that he’s confident the deal will go through.

Israel Political Brief Full Text October 11, 2011: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Speech at the Opening of Special Cabinet Meeting on Deal Reached for Gilad Shalit’s Release — Transcript

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IN FOCUS: PM BENJAMIN NETANYAHU BROKERS GILAD SHALIT’S RELEASE

SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS TRANSCRIPTS

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu remarks at the opening of a special cabinet meeting today

Source: PMO, 10-11-11

PM Netanyahu

Today, I bring a proposal to the Government for a deal that will bring Gilad Shalit home alive and well; bring him home to his parents Aviva and Noam, his brother Yoel, his sister Hadas, his grandfather Zvi, and the entire people of Israel. Two and a half years ago, when the government was formed, I took upon myself, as my first priority, to bring Gilad home to his people, to his family – to bring him home safe and sound.

At the time, Gilad was already held in captivity for two and a half years, with no visits from the Red Cross, with no visits at all, and we did not know what state he was in. The first step I took, and we approved it here in the Government, was to get a video recording of Gilad, and we all breathed a sigh of relief when we saw it. We saw that he was functioning, physically, mentally and cognitively. We saw that he was functioning well. We knew that he was healthy and that he was alive.  I regarded that tape as an insurance policy, because it obliged the Hamas before the international community to safeguard him, to keep him alive and maintain his health. But that was obviously only the first step.

The most important mission that we had was more challenging – to actually bring Gilad home. To that end we held long and tough negotiations through the German mediator. These negotiations were based on a framework outlined by the previous government. They were long and exhausting and despite all our efforts, a deal was not reached.

I must point out that not a day went by without us trying various ways to bring Gilad home, any way possible, and that didn’t work either. In the last few weeks, the negotiations were renewed in Cairo, this time with the Egyptian government as mediator. My instructions to the team were to adhere to the principles and framework that are important for the security of the State of Israel, which I will detail in the meeting.

There is an inbuilt tension between the desire to bring back an abducted soldier, or citizen, and the need to maintain the security of the citizens of Israel.  This is my dual responsibility as Prime Minister.

The deal I am bringing to the Government expresses the right balance between all of these considerations. I do not wish to hide the truth from you – it is a very difficult decision. I feel for the families of victims of terror, I appreciate their suffering and distress, I am one of them. But leadership must be examined at moments such as this, being able to make difficult, but right, decisions.

I believe that we have reached the best deal we could have at this time, when storms are sweeping the Middle East.  I do not know if in the near future we would have been able to reach a better deal or any deal at all. It is very possible that this window of opportunity, that opened because of the circumstances, would close indefinitely and we would never have been able to bring Gilad home at all.

Therefore, for all of these reasons, I instructed the team to put their initials on the deal last Thursday, and today it was finalized and signed by both sides. I thank my Military Secretary Maj. Gen. Yohanan Locker, the Chief of the Shin Bet Yoram Cohen, my personal envoy to the negotiations, David Meidan and his predecessor Hagai Hadas. I thank the team that has accompanied them all these years.

I thank the IDF, the security forces for doing everything they could regarding Gilad Shalit. I also wish to thank the German mediator, and the Chancellor Angela Merkel who supported his mission all along. A send a special thanks to the Government of Egypt and the Egyptian Intelligence Services for providing much assistance in mediating and helping us reaching this agreement.

This morning I Invited Noam Shalit to my residence, and I spoke on the phone with the mother Aviva and the grandfather Zvi. I told them that I am keeping my promise and I’m bringing their son and grandson home. I told them, “I’m bringing your boy back.” I am happy that I succeeded in fulfilling the Jewish decree of redeeming captives, and if all goes as planned, Gilad will be back in Israel in the next few days with his family and his people.

The Nation of Israel is a unique people. We are all mutually responsible for each other, as our Sages said: “He who saves one soul, it is as though he saved an entire world.” Tonight, I bring the Government a proposal to save Gilad Shalit, to finally bring him home to Israel after five years.

Gilad Shalit Timeline: 1,934 Days in Hamas Captivity

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Gilad Shalit timeline: 1,934 days in Hamas captivity

Source: YNet News, 10-11-11

IDF soldier was captured on June 25, 2006 by Gaza terrorists who raided his tank Israel News

Israel and Hamas have agreed on a deal to swap IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, held captive for five years, for the release of over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners.

 

 

 
Here is a timeline of events since Shalit was captured:

 

June 25, 2006 – Hamas operatives launch raid into Israel from the Gaza Strip, killing two soldiers and capturing Shalit.

 

June 28 – Israeli troops invade the Gaza Strip.

 

Sept 15 – Letter from Shalit reaches his family via Egyptian mediators brokering a prisoner swap deal.

 

Oct 1 – Worst internal Palestinian fighting in a decade raises fears of a civil war in Gaza.

 

Nov 26 – Ceasefire in Gaza announced, ends five months of Israeli air strikes and incursions that fail to free Shalit.

 

June 14, 2007 – Hamas takes over Gaza from Fatah forces loyal to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. At least 100 die in fighting.

 

June 25 – Israeli TV airs audio tape from Shalit’s captors asking for medical treatment and release of Palestinians.

 

Sept 8 – Israeli special forces disguised as Hamas gunmen abduct Hamas commander to be used as “bargaining chip.”

 

Dec 26 – Hamas says Shalit won’t be freed unless Israel frees 1,400 Palestinian prisoners, many long-term.

 

April 24, 2008 – Hamas leader offers Israel six-month truce in Gaza but says fate of Shalit separate issue.

 

May 12 – Israel says ceasefire deal must include Shalit. Ceasefire talks falter 10 days later over Israel’s refusal to reopen Gaza’s border crossings.

 

June 9 – Israeli television says Shalit’s family receives hand-written letter from their son.

 

June 17 – Israel and Hamas agree to Egyptian-brokered ceasefire in the Gaza Strip.

 

July 4 – Hamas suspends prisoner swap talks in dispute over Israeli blockade and cross-border rocket fire from Gaza.

 

Sept 25 – Hamas rejects list of prisoners Israel is ready to free in exchange for Shalit, saying it wants more.

 

Dec 19 – Fragile six-month ceasefire between Israel and Hamas expires as they fail to agree on terms to extend truce.

 

Dec 27 – Israel launches 22-day military offensive in the Gaza Strip. Some 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis are killed.

 

Jan 18, 2009 – Israel and Hamas cease fire in Gaza.

 

Feb 14 – Gaza truce deal stalls after Israel insists on Shalit release as condition to ceasefire.

 

Sept 30 – Israel and Hamas confirm deal to exchange proof that Shalit is alive for release of 20 female Palestinians.

 

Oct 2 – Video is handed over and authenticated in which Shalit looked “pale but in good health”. A Red Cross convoy carries women to freedom in the West Bank and Gaza.

 

Nov 25 – Israel rejects a demand for the release of several Hamas commanders as part of any exchange for Shalit, signalling talks have hit a snag. Israel has long balked at granting amnesty to Palestinians jailed for attacks that killed Israelis.

 

June 27, 2010 – Shalit’s parents begin a 12-day march from their northern home to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyau’s Jerusalem residence to press for a prisoner swap.

 

April 9, 2011 – The Israeli military says that Tayser Abu Snima, a top Hamas militant, killed in a raid, was “directly and physically involved” in Shalit’s capture.

 

June 23 – The International Committee of the Red Cross calls on Hamas to provide proof that Shalit is still alive five years after his capture.

 

July 4 – Defence Minister Ehud Barak halts the handover of 84 bodies of Palestinian militants to Palestinian authorities, hours after the military said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had approved the move. The stop order is to ensure no harm would be done to negotiations on any future swap deal to secure Shalit’s release.

 

Oct 3 – Hundreds of Palestinians in Israeli jails join a hunger strike to protest against worsening prison conditions, the Palestinian minister for prisoner affairs says. Netanyahu toughened restrictions on Palestinian prisoners as part of an effort to force Hamas to free Shalit.

 

Oct 11 – Israeli and Hamas officials say a deal has been reached to swap Shalit for over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners.

 

Israel Political Brief October 11, 2011: PM Benjamin Netanyahu Brokers Deal for Gilad Shalit’s Release in Exchange for the Release of Over 1000 Palestinian Prisoners

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

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IN FOCUS: PM BENJAMIN NETANYAHU BROKERS GILAD SHALIT’S RELEASE

Captured Israeli soldier Sgt. Gilad Shalit appears in this undated photo. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Tuesday that Israel and Hamas have agreed to a prisoner swap deal that will release Shalit, who has been held for five years in the Gaza Strip, in return for some 1,000 Palestinian prisoners. A deal to exchange Palestinian prisoners for Shalit will take place next month, Al Arabiya television channel reported on October 11, 2011. REUTERS/Handout/Files

Netanyahu: Israeli soldier held by Hamas returning home in ‘coming days’

Israel’s prime minister says prisoner exchange deal has been agreed upon. In turn, Israel will free hundreds of Palestinian prisoners, including many convicted in deadly attacks on Israelis. — WaPo, 10-11-11

Netanyahu Announces Deal to Free Shalit

Israel and Hamas have reached a tentative agreement on a proposal to exchange Palestinian prisoners for an Israeli soldier held captive for more than five years, both sides said Tuesday. The Israeli cabinet was meeting in emergency session to discuss it.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, who summoned all 29 Cabinet ministers to vote on the agreement concerning the fate of the captive soldier, Staff. Sgt. Gilad Shalit, went on Israeli television beforehand to announce it, a sign that he was confident of Cabinet approval.
“If all goes according to plan, Gilad will be returning to Israel in the coming days,” Mr. Netanyahu said…. READ MORE – NYT, 10-11-11

Reports: Deal reached for Shalit release

Source: JTA, 10-11-11

Israel and Hamas reportedly have arrived at a prisoner exchange agreement that would free Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

Israeli media quoted officials in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office as confirming a report that appeared earlier Tuesday in the Arab media.

The reports said that the Israeli Cabinet was meeting late Tuesday to vote to approve the deal. Media reports did not provide specifics about the agreement.

A spokesman for the terrorist organization Hamas, which runs the Gaza Strip, where Shalit reportedly is being held, confirmed the deal to the Israeli daily Haaretz. He said the deal would include the release of Israeli-Arab prisoners serving life sentences. He also said the deal followed Hamas’ demands, which in the past have included the release of 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, including some with blood on their hands.

Previous efforts to free Shalit, who was kidnapped by Hamas-associated gunmen in a 2006 cross-border raid, have been frustrated by Hamas demands that Israel release terrorists responsible for some of the deadliest attacks on Israel.

Germany and Egypt have been attempting to broker a deal.

Netanyahu Confirms: Gilad Coming Home in a Few Days

Source: Virtual Jerusalem, 10-11-11

Benjamin Netanyahu has confirmed in a statement that a “difficult, but right” agreement has been signed with Hamas to release kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit, who is slated to arrive home in Israel in a few days.

Netanyahu stated that a video showing Gilad Shalit alive and “functional” was given as proof of life before negotiations ensued. He referred to the tape as a “insurance policy.”

Netanyahu said that upon receiving the video, a difficult and lengthy negotiation ensued with a German negotiator. He claimed that since his kidnapping, not one day has passed in which they did not attempt to bring Gilad home.

The negotiations were renewed this week, this time under Egyptian mediation. He stated, “The point this time was to hold to our principles and ensure the factors that would guarantee Israeli security.”

Netanyahu said he had a “huge responsibility” to bring Gilad home, but also a deep responsibility to protecting the people of Israel. He stated multiple times that it was a difficult decision, and that he understands the deep pain of the people affected by the terrorists that will now be released. He said, “I understand your distress, because I am one of you.”

Netanyahu also insinuated that had they not gone forth with the current deal, due to the “uncertain future” in the region, there may have never been another chance to return Gilad home.

Video still from Hamas video released in 09

The Prime Minister revealed that both sides they signed an initial agreement last Thursday, and today (Tuesday) it was finalized.

Netanyahu let the Shalit family know about Gilad’s release at a meeting at his own home. He said, “I’m keeping my promise, I am returning your son to you.”

He added that Gilad should be home in Israel in a number of days.

Mixed reactions are flooding in from Israelis, many of whom expect terror attacks to rise due to the release of 1,000 prisoners in exchange for Shalit, many of which are “heavy” prisoners, an Israeli term that refers to murderous terrorists, responsible for some of Israel’s worst terror attacks.

 

Israel And Hamas Near Deal To Exchange Prisoners For Gilad Shalit

Source: NY Jewish Week, 10-11-11

More than five ears after he was seized by Hamas militants, Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit may be on the verge of going home, and 1,000 Palestinian militants may be the price.

Reports from Israel on Tuesday said the Israeli cabinet was finalizing a deal to exchange the prisoners for Shalit, 25, who was captured near the Keren Shalom Gaza crossing in June, 2006. Egypt reportedly was a broker in the deal. Shalit’s release could happen as soon as the next few days, though some reports said it would be in early November.

The reports originated with Saudi Arabia’s Al-Arabiya TV, and an Israeli government later confirmed that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was discussing the matter with his cabinet.

The Israeli site YNet cited Jerusalem sources saying it was “very likely” the deal would be approved by the Knesset and said Shalit’s father, Noam, had confirmed that he was notified of the deal. Previous efforts to free Shalit, who was kidnapped by Hamas-associated gunmen in a 2006 cross-border raid, have been frustrated by Hamas demands that Israel release terrorists responsible for some of the deadliest attacks on Israel.

Germany and Egypt have been attempting to broker a deal.

 

Israel, Hamas reach Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange deal, officials say

Announcement by Netanyahu’s office comes before planned emergency cabinet meeting to discuss the details of a deal geared at securing the release of the abducted IDF soldier

Source: Haaretz, 10-11-11

Israel and Hamas have reached a prisoner exchange deal that will secure the release of abducted Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit, officials at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said on Tuesday.

Officials in the Prime Minister’s Office said that “a brief window of opportunity has been opened that would possibly lead to Gilad Shalit’s homecoming,” adding: “The window appeared following fears that collapsing Mideast regimes and the rise of extremist forces would make Gilad Shalit’s return impossible.”

IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, captured by Hamas in 2006 IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, captured by Hamas in 2006.
Photo by: Archive

The officials’ comment came following a report by Al-Arabiya, according to which a deal has indeed been reached between Israel and Hamas geared at the release of the IDF soldier, in Hamas captivity in Gaza since 2006.

Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak are meeting several ministers in the Prime Minister’s Office in order to pressure them into voting for the deal, with Netanyahu aides estimating that the deal will be approved by the cabinet,

Special attention is reportedly being given to Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman no to vote against the deal along with ministers from his Yisrael Beiteinu party. Several Likud ministers who have voiced opposition to freeing terrorists in exchange for Shalit are also being pushed to approve the deal.

Netanyahu called an emergency cabinet meeting scheduled for later Tuesday in which ministers are to discuss the status of talks geared at securing Shalit’s release.

Gilad Shalit's mother, Aviva, smiles as she sits in a protest tent erected in Jerusalem by the campaign for his release, following the news that a deal has been reached, October 11, 2011.

Gilad Shalit’s mother, Aviva, smiles as she sits in a protest tent erected in Jerusalem by the campaign for his release, following the news that a deal has been reached, October 11, 2011. Channel 10 television
1/11

Speaking with Haaertz, one Egyptian official said: “After 64 months of tough negotiations we were able to complete the deal. It was a very difficult task, which included thousands of hours of negotiations.”

Also on Tuesday, top Egyptian officials confimed to Haaretz that there had been significant progress in the attempts to strike a prisoner exchange deal that would lead to Shalit’s release.

The officials confirmed that an Israeli delegation, headed by the head of Shalit negotiations David Meidan, was in Cairo to indirectly discuss the details of a possible deal with the chief of Hamas’ military wing Ahmed Al-Jabari.

Similarly to previous rounds of Shalit talks, the indirect talks are overseen by Egyptian intelligence, headed by intelligence chief General Murad Muwafi and his aides.

Egyptian officials have also said that a the deal which has been reached in recent days also includes accused Israeli spy Ilan Garpal.

Activists linked to Palestinian prisoner rights in Israel have also indicated that a recent hunger strike amid those prisoners in Israeli jails was linked to the protest move, as well as the reason Hamas prisoners did not join the strike.

Gilad Shalit release: Why Israel and Hamas agreed to a prisoner swap

Gilad Shalit, a young Israeli soldier captured more than five years ago, is due to be released along with some 1,000 Palestinian prisoners under a deal announced today.

Source: CS Monitor, 10-11-11

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced tonight that Israel and Hamas have agreed to an historic prisoner swap deal that will release Sgt. Gilad Shalit, who has been held for five years in the Gaza Strip, in return for some 1,000 Palestinian prisoners.

After thanking the Egyptian government for mediating the deal, Mr. Netanyahu said that if everything goes according to plan, Mr. Shalit would return home in the coming days.

“Today I am bringing the cabinet a proposal that will bring Gilad home healthy and in one piece,” he said.

The diplomatic breakthrough gives a much needed boost to Hamas, Egypt, and Mr. Netanyahu, all of whom have been struggling of late amid the regional changes prompted by the so-called Arab Spring.

How the deal helps Israel, Hamas

The Israeli prime minister is likely to get a boost in popular support for releasing a soldier who has become a nationwide celebrity since being kidnapped from the Gaza border in June 2006. In addition, he was likely keen to boost ties with Cairo by collaborating on the prisoner deal, analysts say. Relations had grown chilly after a terrorist attack on the Israel-Egyptian border in August, and the storming of Israel’s embassy in Cairo by a mob of Egyptians.

Gerald Steinberg, a political science professor at Bar Ilan University, says Israel wanted to shore up Egypt’s interim military rulers as a counterweight to the growing efforts of Turkey to gain regional prominence.

“The goal is to help stabilize [Cairo], so they play a constructive role” in the region, Mr. Steinberg says. “It’s to show to other countries” that Egypt is still a regional power after this year’s revolution…. READ MORE

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