Hamas claims that the deal would swap 1,027 Palestinians, including 315 serving life sentences, for Shalit. The first batch of 450 prisoners would be swapped for Shalit, with the rest coming in short order. That swap may occur within a week and Shalit would be transferred to Israel via Egypt.
Most troublesome is the fact that Hamas bigwig Khalid Meshaal says that this is not only a huge accomplishment, but the first step in cleansing the region of Israel:
In Damascus, Syria, Khaled Meshal, the political leader of Hamas, said in a televised address that the negotiations had been “very, very difficult” and called the deal “a national accomplishment” that augured well for the Palestinians, who he said hoped to “cleanse the land, and liberate Jerusalem, and unite the Palestinian ranks.”There's no other way to interpret that statement than to see that the Palestinians continue to refuse acceptance of a 2-state solution and a peace process.
So, why is Israel going along with this? The Times points out that some key figures in the Israeli defense and intelligence community have been replaced and the previous objections to large-scale releases of terrorists have been overcome. Moreover, the Israelis aren't expected to transfer these prisoners to the West Bank, where they were seen as being more of a risk. In other words, adding 200 more terrorists to the ranks of the 20,000 strong Hamas ranks would not change the strategic calculus. Then again, I have no doubt that some of those released will attempt to carry out attacks at the first possible opportunity, and that bodes poorly for Israel's long term security.
Indeed, among those being released in the first batch are Palestinian terrorists responsible for the deaths of 599 Israelis. As I've warned, Hamas will welcome them with open arms and jubilant celebrations - making heroes of murdering terrorists who think nothing of murdering Israelis - including children.
It has done nothing to moderate Hamas or Palestinian views of Israel, and while it means that the Shalit family will be able to welcome home their son Gilad, it puts Israelis at risk across the board.
It's little wonder then that Hamas sees this as a huge tactical and strategic victory. The names of those being released will be announced on Sunday, which suggests that there is some last-minute discussion on who exactly is being handed over.
CNN has still more details and it looks like Marwan Barghouti isn't among those getting released.
"The deal will happen in two stages -- the first stage the release of 450 Palestinian prisoners, including 315 Palestinian prisoners that have one or many life sentences and the ones who are with high sentences. The second stage will include 550 Palestinian prisoners," he said.
Of the 450 Palestinian prisoners to be freed during the first stage, 110 will go to the West Bank while 40 will go abroad, according to Mark Regev, Netanyahu's spokesman. The 550 prisoners scheduled to be released during the second stage will be freed two months later, he said.
According to Regev, jailed Palestinian lawmaker Marwan Barghouti is not among the prisoners Israel has agreed to release.