Dekel heads to Germany to finalize swap

In speech, Nasrallah refuses to say whether the IDF captives alive or dead; Israel to receive Arad report.

nasrallah 224.88 (photo credit: Channel 2)
nasrallah 224.88
(photo credit: Channel 2)
Israeli negotiator Ofer Dekel will leave for Germany on Thursday to finalize a German-mediated prisoner swap deal with Hizbullah. In Germany, officials said, Dekel will meet with mediator Gerhard Konrad, who brokered the deal approved on Sunday by the Israeli cabinet. Under the deal, reservists Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, abducted by Hizbullah on July 12, 2006, will be returned to Israel in exchange for Lebanese terrorist Samir Kuntar, four Hizbullah fighters caught during the war and several bodies. On Wednesday, Hizbullah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah said the exchange would take place in mid-July. Regev and Goldwasser are believed to have been killed in the kidnapping attack, although Nasrallah has never confirmed that. The Red Cross has not been allowed access to the abductees. Speaking to a Beirut news conference by video link on Wednesday, Nasrallah said he had not given Israel any indication of the soldiers' fate. He called reports that they are dead "speculation... not based on anything tangible." All the Lebanese prisoners slated to be freed by Israel are alive, including the longest-held, Kuntar, who is serving multiple life terms for killing three Israelis - Dani Haran, his four-year-old daughter and a police officer - in Nahariya in 1979. Nasrallah said he would provide a thorough report with information on missing IAF navigator Ron Arad, whose plane crashed in Lebanon in 1986. His fate is unknown, though Nasrallah said he has reached "absolute conclusions" about what happened to Arad after four years of investigations. He did not elaborate. Nasrallah said that German mediator Konrad would arrive in Lebanon within two days to receive a detailed report about Arad. Israeli officials said that during that meeting, Konrad would also sign Hizbullah on the prisoner-swap agreement. Nasrallah called negotiations over the prisoner exchange "long, tough and complicated," and described the results as a "new victory" for Lebanon.