Dekel: Prisoner swap protests weakened us

Ofer Dekel says Hizbullah benefited from demos, calls group "despicable, but professional."

Ofer Dekel 224 88 (photo credit: Channel 10)
Ofer Dekel 224 88
(photo credit: Channel 10)
Public protests weakened Israel's position in negotiations with Hizbullah for captured IDF reservists Ehud Regev and Eldad Goldwasser, Ofer Dekel, the outgoing special negotiator on the captives issue, said Monday. "When the media and the public respond as they do, it weakens one's position," Dekel told Army Radio. "On the other hand though, there are other aspects - families, sensitivities and pain." Dekel met the Regev and Goldwasser families in Sha'arei Tikva on Monday, the first time he had met with them since the reservists' bodies were returned to Israel in a prisoner-swap deal with Hizbullah last July. Dekel said that the negotiating team always believed that direct contact with the captives' families would hinder the process, but that he insisted knowing about every demonstration. "Compassion is a natural instinct. We are human beings," he said. "My motto when I had contact with the families was always, 'I am not prepared to reveal anything via the media. Consult with me on any protests that you plan to hold so that we can do things together cleverly.'" Dekel said that Hizbullah knew all along how to conduct serious negotiations, calling the terror group "despicable, but professional. "There was never a case in which they didn't come to a meeting ready," he said. "Every word of theirs was carefully considered and planned. They knew about every protest rally here in Israel and used it for their benefit." Dekel, who had been leading Egyptian-mediated negotiations with Hamas for the release of kidnapped soldier Gilad Schalit, resigned last week and was temporarily replaced by Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) head Yuval Diskin.