ANALYSIS: Hezbollah Chief Has Sights Set on Making 'The Big Deal'

One may conclude that Nasrallah has received a solid Israeli commitment that prisoners will be released.

Hassan Nasrallah has accustomed us to regard his statements as a complete package: body language, intonation, emphases, order of ideas each of these elements has significance. This is his strength as a rhetorician.

Nasrallah on Monday chose the role of "official spokesman" who reports on developments as if he is not involved. While reading portions of a document, Nasrallah explained that intensive, non-stop negotiations are underway that there is progress and efforts are being made to achieve what he calls "the big deal."

The significant novelty in his statement is that for the first time he is referring to great optimism that the deal will occur, and he even specifies that the deal includes the two kidnapped Israelis and that there is a commitment to return all the Lebanese prisoners and dead.

What he did not mention was the link to the missing navigator, Ron Arad, or the MIAs from the battle at Sultan Yaakub in 1982.

Has Nasrallah given up on his earlier demands for the release of Arab and Palestinian prisoners, in addition to the Lebanese? Although nothing in detail was heard from him, it is possible to conclude that he has received a solid Israeli commitment that prisoners will be released. Without such a commitment, Nasrallah had no reason to radiate such optimism.

The question is the extent of the Israeli offer: Will it be payment only in Lebanese "currency" or a combination that involves another deal for the release of Palestinian prisoners, whose release Nasrallah will claim credit for later?

It is possible that public pressure on Nasrallah in Lebanon has also led him to disassociate the Lebanese prisoners from the Palestinian ones.

On the other hand, has Israel decided to give up on its coupling of the release of Samir Kuntar with its demand for information on Ron Arad, making do with the latest information Hezbollah offered?

According to Nasrallah, it is possible that in the very near future, more details on the deal will be released, and then we will have answers to these questions. In any case, Nasrallah's statements yesterday are meant in part to present Hezbollah as an organization that is not sparing any effort to close a deal, passing the ball back onto Israel's court.

Nasrallah was keen to stress that despite all the significance he attributes to the release of the Lebanese prisoners, Monday's exchange was no more than a humanitarian gesture that resulted from the initiative of the German mediator, and which he claims is not part of a broader deal.

But according to sources in Lebanon, Monday's deal is the result of a breakthrough on the way to a major deal and would not have taken place unless it was part of a "down payment."