IPS publishes list of prisoners to be freed

Barak postpones trip to the US ahead of Wednesday swap; says lackluster Arad report won't affect deal.

Kuntar 224.88 (photo credit: Channel 2)
Kuntar 224.88
(photo credit: Channel 2)
Days before a prisoner exchange deal between Israel and Hizbullah is set to be implemented, the Israel Prison Service published on its website Sunday afternoon a list of the prisoners that will be released as part of the agreement. For an undisclosed reason, the names were removed from the website shortly after being published. The list was published 48 hours before the time appointed for the government to approve the deal, seemingly in order to give the public the option for appeal. According to the website, the prisoners that will be released, in addition to Lebanese terrorist Samir Kuntar, are Khader Zidan, Maher Qurani, Mahmad Srour, and Hussein Sleiman, all of whom were captured in the Second Lebanon War. The message added that the prisoners will be released on Wednesday this week. An Israel Prison Service statement said that "on June 29, the government approved the draft for the agreement to release the Israeli kidnapped soldiers in Lebanon, according to which kidnapped soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev will be returned to Israel in exchange for the return of Samir Kuntar and four other illegal Lebanese militants to Lebanon." Samir Kuntar is serving multiple life sentences for killing three Israelis - Dani Haran, his four-year-old daughter and a police officer - in a 1979 cross-border terror attack in Nahariya. In exchange for these five prisoners, Israel will receive abducted IDF reservists Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, who were captured by Hizbullah while patrolling the northern border in July 2006. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has said he believes the soldiers are dead. Also Sunday, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that the report transferred by Hizbullah on Ron Arad as an initial part of the swap deal did not solve the mystery surrounding what happened to the missing navigator. He added that despite disappointment from the report, as a defense minister, a former chief of general staff, and a former military commander, he believes he has a "moral responsibility" to proceed with the deal to return Goldwasser and Regev. Meanwhile, Barak has postponed a scheduled trip to the US on Monday, during which he was expected to meet with American leaders to discuss the Iranian nuclear threat. The trip has been rescheduled to early August, due to the imminent prisoner swap with Hizbullah. Barak was planning to spend three days in the US for talks with Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Defense officials said he would likely also meet with President George W. Bush.