12.10.2011 14.Tischrei. 5772 Erew Sukkot
Netanyahu: Gilad will be home within days; 1,000 prisoners to be freed for kidnapped soldier.
This Sunday will mark 25 years since air force navigator Ron Arad was taken captive, never to return. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's effort to conclude a deal for the return of Gilad Shalit, which the cabinet was meeting to approve as of press time, was meant to ensure that the kidnapped soldier would not share Arad's fate. Barring any last-minute hitches, it seems Shalit will be home in a few days, after more than five years in captivity.
There have been many previous reports predicting that a deal would soon be signed, especially in the Arab press. But this time, there is good reason for optimism – mainly, the fact that both sides now seem serious about signing a deal whose outlines have been known for years: Israel will release some 450 Palestinians convicted of serious crimes in two stages, the first when Hamas transfers Shalit to Egypt and the second upon his return home. Some time later, Israel will free another 550 or so, to be billed as a gesture to Cairo. Hamas dictated the identity of the first 450; the remainder are at Israel's discretion….