Saniora: Prisoner deal 'Israeli failure'

Lebanese PM: Terms are "a clear condemnation of Israel;" Bishara: Agreement "a defeat for Israel."

Saniora 224.88 ap (photo credit: AP [file])
Saniora 224.88 ap
(photo credit: AP [file])
The prisoner exchange deal between Israel and Hizbullah represents a failure for the Jewish state and a "national success" for Hizbullah, Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora said Tuesday. A statement issued by Saniora's office said he shared with the Lebanese the joy of the upcoming release of prisoners by Israel, including that of the longest-held Lebanese in Israel, Samir Kantar, who brutally killed Danny Haran and his four-month-old baby daughter Einat in Nahariya in 1979. "The release of the prisoners through a German mediator, after this long time and according to the conditions published in the media, marks a big failure, and a very big failure of the policy of Israel that refused, before the July 2006 war, to seal a complete exchange deal," said the official statement. "Then it returned and launched a war against Lebanon and its people with the excuse of demanding the prisoners, and then it returned and submitted in the end to the logic of negotiating through mediators, in order for the deal to succeed," the statement went on. "This deal ... is a new and clear condemnation for Israel, its tactics and its policies," the statement added. Former Balad chairman Azmi Bishara echoed similar sentiments on Monday, saying that "the prisoner exchange deal between Israel and Hizbullah constitutes a large accomplishment for national opposition in Lebanon (Hizbullah), and a defeat for Israel." Speaking to Al-Manar TV, a Hizbullah television station, Bishara said that the same agreement could have been reached without the Second Lebanon War taking place. The deal constituted a failure for Israel, he said, not only militarily, financially and morally, but also in that the operation in Lebanon did not succeed in returning kidnapped IDF reservists Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev. Bishara, who has left Israel, is currently wanted for questioning by the Israel Police under suspicion of treason for allegedly aiding Hizbullah during the Second Lebanon War. According to the terms of the Hizbullah exchange - which was approved by the government on Sunday - Israel will release Kuntar, along with four other Hizbullah fighters, an undetermined number of Palestinian prisoners, dozens of Hizbullah and Palestinian bodies, and information on the disappearance in Beirut in 1982 of four Iranian diplomats, in exchange Goldwasser and Regev, and a Hizbullah report on the fate of IAF navigator Ron Arad, missing since 1986. AP contributed to this report.