Panel Releases Recommendations on Changes to Policy on Israel Prisoner Swaps

Report likely to advocate for tougher approach on prisoner swap deals was drawn up by panel convened in 2008 to examine new standards for negotiating release of Israeli captives.

A classified document recommending changes to the way the government negotiates for captures Israelis likely advocates for a tougher approach, based on comments by Defense Minister Ehud Barak upon receiving the report Thursday.

Referring to increasingly lopsided prisoner swaps, Barak said the report called for halting "the slippery slope in which we have gradually found ourselves."

Gaza’s Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniya, left, with Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki - AFP
Gaza’s Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniya, left, presenting Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki with a symbolic key to the city of Jerusalem.AFP

The document, released on Thursday, was drawn up by a panel convened in 2008 to examine creating new standards for negotiations for the release of Israeli captives. The possible need for such new standards came prominently to the fore last October when captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was released in exchange for over 1,000 Arab prisoners.

The panel, which was headed by retired Supreme Court Justice Meir Shamgar, had announced in advance that it would not submit recommendations until Shalit was released.

Shamgar said Thursday that the panel report not only included advice on how to negotiate a prisoner release but even whether negotiations should be conducted and subject to what guidelines. The panel, he said, recommended that the release of captive prisoners be the responsibility of the defense minister and that a single entity be responsible for managing the contacts.