Livni: Schalit deal strengthened Hamas, weakened Israel

Opposition leader says list of remaining prisoners to be released should be coordinated with Palestinian Authority.

Livni 311 reuters (photo credit: Reuters)
Livni 311 reuters
(photo credit: Reuters)
Opposition leader Tzipi Livni (Kadima) on Sunday said that Hamas was strengthened in the prisoner swap deal to free Gilad Schalit.
In an interview with Israel Radio, Livni said that the deal strengthened Hamas and gave them legitimacy, while undermining Israel's strategic deterrence.
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It is important that Israel improve its deterrence, she said, so that entities such as Hamas will understand that they cannot attack Israel, whether by launching rockets or kidnapping citizens, without serious consequences.
The opposition leader said that Israel should coordinate the second stage of the prisoner release deal, in which 550 prisoners will be freed, with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, not Hamas or the Muslim Brotherhood.
Such action would weaken Hamas while strengthening the Palesetinian Authority, thereby lending legitimacy to its diplomatic, nonviolent approach to the peace process.
Livni also insisted that the government must use the unique opportunity brought by the prisoner exchange to return to meaningful peace negotiations.
In response to her statements, Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud) on Monday said the opposition leader had no reason to criticize the conditions of the Schalit deal because it was based on years of negotiations with a Kadima government led by former prime minister Ehud Olmert, Israel Radio reported.
Katz also noted that he did not believe that the stabbing of a 17-year-old Jewish boy by a Palestinian man in Jerusalem on Saturday was related to the prisoner exchange carried out last week, according to the report.
Livni and Katz were both interviewed Sunday morning on Israel Radio.