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Hamas-Israel win-win Shalit deal

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Hamas-Israel win-win Shalit deal

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The prisoner-exchange deal between Israel and the Hamas rulers of the Palestinian Gaza Strip has finally been sealed, amid much emotion and controversy.

To discuss some of the issues raised, euronews’ Nial O’Reilly spoke to Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor.

euronews:
“Hamas are today portraying this deal as a victory. With so many of their comrades released, don’t they have a point?”

Yigal Palmor:
“I don’t really think they have a point because for years they have promised to set free all the major terror figures that are in Israeli jails. They have vowed to release all their leaders that are in Israeli jails. Today their numbers and, of course, the identities of those released are nothing like what Hamas had boasted to bring back. So I think Palestinians who will compare Hamas boasting with reality will understand that they have not kept their promise completely.”

euronews:
“You were prepared to deal with them on this issue. Why now? Why did the Shalit family have to wait so long? If it’s acceptable now why wasn’t it acceptable five years ago?”

Yigal Palmor:
“Because Hamas was intransigent and did not show any realism in posing its demands. It’s as simple as that. We were very close to a deal then they stepped back. Now, recently, they have shown more realism and more flexibility, probably because the situation in Syria makes them fear that they need to leave the country as quickly as possible.”

euronews:
“There’s a great deal of joy in Israel today, of course, but what do you say to the victims of Hamas violence who will be distraught by the thought of 1,000 militants, ex-militants and accused militants, being freed?”

Yigal Palmor:
“Yes, they are distraught because some of the unrepenting killers and murderers are being set free without having expressed the least of regrets and actually taking pride in what they have done. This was a very difficult decision to make and, in the end, the government decided to give priority to the one life that could be saved, the life of the hostage soldier, over the lives of those who are already dead, as tragic as that may seem.”

euronews:
“In dealing with Hamas, some analysts feel you’ve effectively killed off hopes of a breakthrough in talks with their great rivals Fatah. What is your view on that?”

Yigal Palmor:
“I think it’s obvious that the national unity that Hamas promised, or pledged, with the Palestinian Authority was not something they ever meant to carry out. I think they are engaged in a policy that will lead them into a blind alley. We will still need to deal with two different Palestinian entities.”