[DEBATE] : Israel may exchange Barghouti for Shalit
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Mon Feb 9 06:21:29 GMT 2009
Israel may exchange Barghouti for Shalit
Swap may also include other Palestinian prisoners
Shalit is crucial for Israeli parties in Tuesday’s elections
DUBAI: Israel could be working on a deal for the release of its
kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit by freeing Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti
lodged in an Israeli jail.
The London-based Arabic daily, Al Hayat, is reporting that Israelis are
ready for the swap. It said Mr. Barghouti, a high-profile Fatah leader,
would be among the around 1,000 Palestinian prisoners that Israel is
expected to free. The move comes ahead of Tuesday’s parliamentary
elections in Israel.
It coincides with ongoing negotiations, mediated by Egypt, for a durable
ceasefire between the Palestinian group Hamas and Israel, who fought a
22-day war in Gaza recently.
The Israeli Kadima-Labour combination heading the government has given
top priority to seeking Cpl. Shalit’s release in exchange for hundreds
of Palestinian prisoners. Hamas had abducted Cpl. Shalit during a
cross-border raid in 2006.
Analysts point out that the Cairo negotiations have also focused on
conditions that would result in an 18-month renewable ceasefire between
Hamas and Israel.
Besides, lifting the Gaza blockade by Israel and a mechanism to monitor
the gates in Gaza at the Rafah crossing with Egypt have been discussed
Under the shadow of the Gaza war which has failed to prevent Hamas
rocket attacks, Israelis appear set to vote for proven hardliners during
Opinion polls suggest that Israel’s far-right party, Yisrael Beiteinu is
now in third position, in terms of expected seats in the 120-member
Knesset. The party has relegated the Labour party to the fourth spot.
Led by Avigdor Lieberman, a Russian immigrant, the Yisrael Beiteinu is
expected to win 19 seats. Opinion polls conducted by the daily Yediot
Ahronot showed that Likud is likely to get 25 seats, two seats more than
Kadima led by Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni. The Labour party led by
Defence Minister Ehud Barak is expected to win only 16 seats.
Observers say that support from Yisrael Beiteinu is likely to be crucial
for government formation once discussions for a new post-poll coalition
begin in earnest.
The Benyamin Netanyahu-led Likud party and the Yisrael Beiteinu appear
natural allies. However, the formation of a coalition involving Foreign
Minister Tzipi Livni’s Kadima party and Yisrael Beiteinu cannot be ruled
The chances of the emergence of ultra right coalition have improved
after a poll conducted by the Mohot Polling Institute has shown that
among the undecided voters, 39 per cent are of a right-wing inclination,
20 per cent are Leftist and 14 per cent are centrist.
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