On Tuesday the state of Israel released 477 Palestinian prisoners and promised the freedom of 550 others in a couple of months in exchange for a single Israeli soldier, Sgt. First Class Gilad Shalit, who'd been held by the terrorist group Hamas for the last five years, four months.

On Tuesday the state of Israel released 477 Palestinian prisoners and promised the freedom of 550 others in a couple of months in exchange for a single Israeli soldier, Sgt. First Class Gilad Shalit, who'd been held by the terrorist group Hamas for the last five years, four months.


What they got for that rather lopsided deal - and it's not the first one, as a pattern has developed over the last couple decades of Israel offering Palestinian leaders a lot for a little, and generally getting rebuffed - was Hamas' promise to try to kidnap more Israeli soldiers, now that they have further proof of Israel's willingness to barter. Some 5,000 Palestinians remain in Israeli prisons.


The Israelis may not be perfect - of which some readers will no doubt remind us - but does anyone really believe there can be peace in the Middle East so long as that is the prevailing attitude on the Palestinian side? Or that one can negotiate in good faith with another party that desires your annihilation?


Yet this was hailed by some leaders around the world as evidence that there is hope yet for negotiations. This page fears the opposite. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who recently petitioned the United Nations for recognition of Palestinian statehood, was reportedly left out of the picture here as the Israelis bargained with Hamas. While it's true that Shalit was the first Israeli soldier captured in 26 years to be returned alive, and while his release was very much welcomed in Israel, in some quarters it was viewed not so positively, especially among those who'd had family members killed by some of those Palestinian prisoners. One newspaper columnist referred to the trade as "a prize for terrorism ... a terrific victory for Hamas ... capitulation." Some fear Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will now harden his stance toward the Palestinians to compensate for this compromise.


Again, it doesn't sound like a recipe for peace.


Journal Star