The Impact of The Olmert-Nasrallah Exchange

Jul 16, 2008 Published under Israel, Lebanon, Middle East, Mideast Negotiations, Palestine

I already blogged about my instinctive misgivings with negotiating to exchange imprisoned terrorists for the bodies of fallen soldiers, as well as about the perspective from some Israelis on why it was the right thing to do.

Now that the painful exchange took place, as much as I heard from many Israeli friends how this part of the code that makes Israeli soldiers so dedicated – knowing they will never be left behind, I regret to bring more information to bear on why this was such a damaging act.

It is not just that it empowered Nasrallah and sent a signal to all would-be-enemies of Israel that they can kill any Israeli prisoners and still exchange the bodies for value.

It turns out that even moderate ordinary Palestinians were enveloped in the fever of Nasrallahic heroism, buying Hezbollah’s message.  A parade in Ramallah was held to celebrate the release of Samir Kundar, and all the messages addressed to President Abbas stated that the only thing that works with Israel is a strong position to FIGHT, as opposed to negotiate.  Palestinians were glued to Al-Manar TV, the Hezbollah station that is the scariest thing I’ve ever seen – pure propaganda, pure hatred.  The prisoner exchange was seen as a mythical victory for Nasrallah.

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