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Sunday, July 8, 2007


As the week begins and as the release of 250 prisoners to FATAH is on the Israeli decision table, now is a time to extend good will northwards and southwards, as well as eastwards. The intent to release 250 un-bloodied prisoners eastwards to FATAH was in the air prior to the HAMAS takeover of Gaza and and the speedy release of Alan Johnston.

Simultaneous to the release of Mr. Johnston, HAMAS spokesman Ismael Haniyeh stated his hopes that a deal with Israel leading to the release of Gilad Shalit could become a reality soon (see the BBC news story "Alan Johnston is Released". July 4, 2007).

While keeping in mind the negative remarks about Israel by Syrian HAMAS leader Khaled Mashaal in British Newspaper THE GUARDIAN (as reported in the Jerusalem Post story "Hamas takes credit for Alan Johnston's release", July 8, 2007), one must ask, "Is it Khaled Mashaal, or is it Ismail Haniyeh, who has his hand on the HAMAS pulse in Gaza?"

An opportunity in real time may exist with Ismail Haniyeh, that may not exist with other HAMAS leadership. Ismail Haniyeh was prominent in the release of Alan Johnston, and it is likely that he would be prominent in any release of Gilad Shalit. Israel should waste neither time nor opportunity to speak to Ismail Haniyeh, to arrange for the release of Gilad Shalit, as well as to arrange a conduit (even through HAMAS) to arrange with HEZBOLLAH for the release of Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev.

If it means that Israel releases 250 un-bloodied prisoners to FATAH, as was already in the air, as a pure gift to Mahmoud Abbas; if it means that Israel release an additional 250 un-bloodied prisoners to HAMAS (or some type of equivalent) and an additional 500 un-bloodied prisoners to HEZBOLLAH (or the equivalent); now is the time for Israel to carefully consider every open window for opportunities to see to the safe return of the three Israeli soldiers. Neither can the good will that Israel can extend to the 'Palestinians' be underestimated at this time.

Yet, Israel is not and cannot be naive; an open window can easily be slammed shut on a careless, unprotected, outstretched neck! Nor can Israel allow itself to be distracted from it's exercises in the Golan or it's anti-Qassam work in Gaza. May HaShem guide Israel between the 'Straits' in these Three Weeks....