A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Shalit Deal: This Time for Real?

Two big breaking stories today: the US claim to have foiled an Iranian-funded plot to kill Saudi Ambassador Adel Jubeir, and the Gilad Shalit swap deal between Israel and Hamas.The former seems so bizarre — assuming it's true I assume it has something to do with the internal power struggle between the Guards Corps and Ahmadinejad, but let's not rush to speculation just yet — so I'll comment briefly on Shalit.

Israel's loyalty to its own captured military personnel is indeed admirable: the 1000-to-1 imbalance in the trade testifies to that. I'll still be a little cautious until the trade is completed: a Shalit deal has seemed "imminent" so often in the past five years that I have to take an "I'll beliebe it when I see it" stance, though it sounds as if all the details are hammered out. Shalit will have spent one fifth of his 25 years in captivity. But there have been so many last-minute hitches that a certain caution is called for before the celebrations begin — on either side of the trade.

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