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(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Israel may consider a prisoner swap with Lebanon to secure the release of the two soldiers captured by Hizbullah, but only after its military operation is complete, Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter said on Tuesday morning.
"If one of the ways to bring home the soldiers will be negotiations on the possibility of releasing Lebanese prisoners I think the day will come when we will also have to consider this," Dichter told Army Radio.
Dichter claimed that efforts to gain the release kidnapped soldier Cpl. Gilad Shalit being held by a Hamas-linked group in Gaza and the two being held by Hizbullah were not connected to one another.
In fact, Dichter made a recent statement saying that Israel would release Palestinians prisoners in exchange Shalit. Hamas rejected the statement saying," our people don't have any faith in Israeli 'good-will gestures.
On Monday, Iran's Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said a cease-fire and an exchange of prisoners would be possible.
"We believe that we should think of an acceptable and fair [deal] to resolve this," said Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki after talks with Syrian Vice President Farouk al-Sharaa in Damascus. "In fact, there can be a cease-fire followed by a prisoner swap."
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has emphatically rejected the idea of a prisoner swap with Hamas and Hizbullah.