Barak receives Shamgar reccomendations 311.
(photo credit: Ariel Harmoni/Defense Ministry)
Defense Minister Ehud Barak said on Thursday that following the return of Gilad
Schalit the time has come “to end the slippery slope we find ourselves on” in
regard to the ever-steepening price of returning abducted soldiers.
made the comments upon receiving the recommendations of the Shamgar Committee,
tasked with setting out guidelines for dealing with the abduction of
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The details of the report were not revealed, but the panel was
expected to recommend that Israel avoid conducting large-scale prisoner swaps
for abducted soldiers like the Schalit exchange in October
, in which 1,027
Palestinian prisoners were released.
The Shamgar Committee was
established by Barak in July 2008 after the bodies of Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad
Regev were returned to Israel in exchange for terrorist Samir Kuntar, four
Hezbollah fighters and the bodies of nearly 200 Lebanese and
The government held up publicizing the committee’s
recommendations until after a deal for Schalit was reached.
and approved by the security cabinet, the panel’s recommendations will limit the
government’s ability to conduct such swaps in the future.
“In the area in
which we live... we can’t act effectively to secure our long-range interests and
the interests of our citizens if we don’t change the rules, the results or the
reality as they have existed in the exchange deals we’ve made in the last 25
years,” Barak said.
He said that although he supported the Schalit deal,
Israel had freed larger and larger amounts of prisoners in its exchange deals
and must now act to make difficult decisions as to how it negotiates for
abducted soldiers in the future. Speaking in an Army Radio interview, Barak
cited the US, Britain, Australia and New Zealand as countries that have much
tougher rules about negotiating for the release of captives. He said that while
it would be difficult for Israel to implement more rigid protocols for dealing
with abducted prisoners, it was possible and in Israel’s best interest
Barak said that a public discourse and a government discussion
of the issue were possible now that emotions are not running as high as they
were when Schalit was being held captive. He said that such a discussion could
prepare Israel to deal with decision- making in future abduction
The defense minister said the government would study the
Shamgar Committee’s recommendations on intelligence, operational and
organizational aspects of abduction situations as well as guidelines for dealing
with a negotiation situation.