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prisoner exchange

  • The real reason Jewish-American spy Jonathan Pollard is back in the news

    Pollard is scheduled to be released in November. The issue for Israel is whether the U.S. will allow the Jewish American to move to Israel, where Washington fears he would be given a hero's welcome. The 30-year saga of convicted spy Jonathan Pollard is once again gaining serious attention in the Israeli, American and international news media. The reporting, most of which appears to be directed speculation, is focusing on whether Pollard will be released in late November or sooner, and whether a decision in Washington to release him early could be part of some sort of quid pro quo aimed…

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  • What do genocide, Schalit have to do with Palestinian prisoners?

    The recent curtailment of the rights of Palestinian prisoners was presented by Israel as leverage designed to secure the release of Gilad Schalit. But Schalit has been released, while the sanctions remain. This past summer, somewhere around the fifth anniversary of Gilad Schalit's capture, and several months before his release, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Israel Prison Service launched a new policy restricting the rights of Palestinian political prisoners (commonly known as "security prisoners"). The new restrictions, on top of existing discrimination between criminal and political prisoners, included an increased use in the solitary confinement of prominent leaders; a…

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  • Palestinians join UNESCO - symbolic step to statehood?

    The emotional victory may not be a game-changer, but to consider it merely symbolic is missing deep potential consequences of full acceptance into a UN club. This post has been updated, 31 October, 8:40pm The Palestinian Authority won a major victory on Monday by being accepted to UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. The acceptance is a critical moment, not so much because it will really affect the lives of most Palestinians, but for what it says about the unfolding international attitudes and policy, and for Palestine and Israel. Here are a few possible implications. 1. UNESCO…

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  • WATCH: Livni explains why she opposed Schalit exchange deal

    Livni speaks out on the prisoner swap, regional relations and the Arab Spring - but dodges a question on settlement policy During her visit to France this week, Kadima leader and head of the opposition Tzipi Livni sat for an interview with Annette Young of France 24's English-language service. Previously foreign minister in the Olmert government, Livni comes across as an intelligent and thoughtful person who avoids populist rhetoric. Surprisingly for a politician, she also gives the impression of being quite modest - even self-effacing. She seems to be so engaged in the interview that she's actually enjoying it, as…

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  • This government WANTS Hamas for its "partner"

    Mahmoud Abbas' popularity in the West is a headache for Benjamin Netanyahu. It's no wonder he'd rather do business with Hamas If I were Bibi Netanyahu, that’s what I’d want. I’d say to myself: “Mahmoud Abbas is a pain in the neck, he’s popular with the West, he makes Israel look bad – he cooperates with us and we don’t cooperate with him, so he goes to the UN and makes us look bad. Puts pressure on me to do things I don’t want to do and couldn’t do even if I wanted to, which I don’t. But Hamas? Hamas…

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  • Rick's Weekly Wrap: The boy is back in town

    Welcome, one and all, to the Weekend Holyland Wrap. No, you cannot take your haz-mat suits off. There's still Schalit Fever in the air. And smoke. And keep those helmets on. They'll be needed too. This here is the extreme tour version. | Raging Rechavia “Rick” Berman gives you the week’s top stories as they ought to be told. A weekly feature on +972 By Rechavia “Rick” Berman So "the boy*" is back in town. By now, if you read this most excellent and informative website I have the privilege to share space on, you have heard all about Bibi…

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  • Neocon lobbyist marks Schalit release with calls for genocide?

    Right? I mean, that's the immediate impression when you read it (h/t Political Correction). Rachel Abrams, who blogs at Bad Rachel, sits on the board of the Emergency Committee for Israel, the very same group that tried accusing Occupy Wall Street of anti-Semitism. Take a deep breath: Yeah. Rwanda, make way, here comes Mrs. Abrams. Even if you take out the actual howl for blood, that's just about one of the most hate-filled rants I've ever laid my eyes on. It's almost as if she wrote it to give readers a useful sample of what hate-speech really is. If that's…

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  • Hoping Bibi’s Schalit photo-op could be a Dukakis moment

    As my colleague Dimi Reider posted yesterday, the social networks are swamped with pictures of PM Binyamin Netanyahu popping up in famous historical photos, after seeing him in almost every picture that the government released yesterday during the Schalit prisoner swap. The momentum seems to be in full swing, and anyone who opened up their Facebook this morning was most probably met by a whole new batch of funny photos. Here are a few more: I can’t help but hope that the PM’s efforts to promote himself so aggressively yesterday could actually backfire somehow. It reminded me of the notorious…

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  • Release of prisoners bittersweet for family, friends of terror victims

    In August of 2002, less than 24 hours after hearing about the death of a dear friend, Marla Ann Bennett, I wrote a column in a prominent British newspaper about the world's loss. Marla was one of a number of people killed in the bombing of the Hebrew University's Mt. Scopus campus Frank Sinatra cafeteria. A popular meeting point for the foreign students studying abroad, the dead also included Israelis (Jews and Arabs). Less than 24 hours after watching the man responsible for the attack walk free from an Israeli prison as part of the Gilad Schalit exchange deal, another…

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  • WATCH: Bibi's true role in historical events

    Israeli activists and commentators got tired very quickly of Netanyahu pushing himself into every scene with released soldier Gilad Shalit today. Some of them went on Facebook to take the matter ad absurdum, by placing the prime minister in historic moments he had little real claim to. Like this, by Uri Streigold : Or this, by Noa Liberman-Plashkes: And obviously, this (by Gil Matus): But the one that takes the cake is this, published by sports writer Ouriel Daskal as "Exclusive - Gilad Schalit's X-Ray shot:"

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  • Gilad Schalit, once a captive, is now a soldier again

    I have been crying since 10:24 this morning. After three hours, my television was finally on mute, but suddenly my eyes caught a flurry of activity: grainy footage of a tiny but unmistakable youngster, walking in a slanted way and being propped or dragged under his arms by people who obviously controlled him. It was the first image of Gilad Schalit emerging from captivity. He was wearing a button-down stiff-collar shirt, so new it still had original packing creases, what looked like jeans, and a black baseball cap. The staid reporters on Channel 2 choked up in unison, they sniffled…

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