'Lack of policy on kidnapped soldiers weakens Israel'

War report criticizes Olmert for negotiating prisoners' release after announcing he wouldn't.

winograd 224.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
winograd 224.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Israel needs to formulate a clear policy for dealing with instances of kidnapped soldiers and should not agree to "crazy deals" in negotiations with terrorists that will only increase their motivation to abduct additional troops, the Winograd Committee recommends in its report. The committee dedicated a chapter called "Kidnapping - A Strategic Threat" to the issue in their final report that was released on Wednesday. Israel is currently in the process of trying to negotiate the return of reservists Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser who are being held by Hizbullah as well as Cpl. Gilad Schalit, who was abducted by Hamas in the Gaza Strip. In the beginning of the chapter, the members of the war panel stressed the sensitivity of the issue but claimed that lack of a formulated policy on how to deal with a kidnapped soldier was harmful for Israel's national security. "The lack of a clear and detailed policy - at all the different levels - for dealing with the kidnapping threat is a strategic mistake and even weakens Israel," the report read. "It is clear that as long as we appear vulnerable... the price for the return of the soldier is higher and the motivation to kidnap additional soldiers increases." While not mentioning names, the committee criticized Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in the chapter, claiming that his initial declaration that Israel will not negotiate the release of Schalit and then engaging in talks with Hamas "weakened Israel as well as its ability to deal with a kidnapping incident." Israeli governments, the report said, dealt with kidnapping attacks in an "unplanned fashion," without pre-planning. "A strategic plan for kidnappings would not just include policy vis-à-vis negotiations... but would also ensure that declarations made in the beginning [immediately following the attack] would not be decisive and unrealistic," the report read. In the report, the committee members mentioned the US's declared policy of not negotiating with terrorists as an example which the panel said was partially responsible for minimizing the number of attempts to kidnap American soldiers. The committee recommended that Israel engage in a dialogue with its allies that face a common threat and formulate a joint policy that would enjoy international legitimacy as well as global cooperation.