More than 1,700 days and nights have passed since the kidnapping of Gilad Schalit on the Gaza border. Two governments – one led by Kadima and one by the Likud – have negotiated intensively with his captors, mediated by an experienced German intelligence official. But so far, there has been no progress. There is no indication of a softening on the part of the militant branch of Hamas holding Schalit. Nor is there an external player, for instance Egypt or the Palestinian Authority, that can guarantee it possesses the leverage needed to bring about a breakthrough.No one disagrees that the heavy price Israel is being asked to pay to free Schalit is hard to swallow. Several polls and the size of July’s march indicate that a large portion of the public, perhaps even a majority, believes the government must demonstrate the utmost pragmatism. But the red lines that prime ministers Ehud Olmert and Binyamin Netanyahu set out are still considered legitimate. It is clear to everyone that their positions reflect a responsibility to prevent a future mass killing of innocents.Israel has already expressed its willingness to free 1,000 Palestinian prisoners, the vast majority of whom are murderers of Jews. However, according to reports that have not been denied, with a small number of the names on the Hamas list, the government has set boundaries. For some, release is dependent on them not returning to their hometowns in Judea and Samaria. For others, Israel has agreed to release them only in a few years’ time.