Prepare to Release the Next Shalit

The Shalit case raises the urgent need to set a regulation, if not pass a law, that will be obligatory should we face this situation again.

To salve their consciences, and/or to calm their right-wing voters, various ministers and MKs are drawing up a bill that will presumably be dubbed the "Shalit Law." Its main purpose will be to reduce the motivation of terror groups to kidnap Israelis.

In the case of an abduction, the bill is intended to set a price tag for retrieving Israeli prisoners of war/kidnap victims that is based on the 2008 Shamgar Committee recommendations, which were not made public. According to unofficial sources, the panel included a recommendation that Israel not release more than one Palestinian prisoner for each Israeli POW/kidnap victim.

Gilad Shalit
Ilan Assayag

If this policy had been in place today, captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit would be returning in a coffin (in exchange for how many Palestinian prisoners? ). Passing such a law will be a death sentence for the next Shalit.

The handcuffs that our decision makers would like to place on members of terror groups will deter them about as much as the death penalty would deter a suicide bomber.

Hamas will exploit any opportunity to kidnap an Israeli, just as Israel does not miss any opportunity to assassinate wanted Palestinians. The fact that 1,000 of their brethren sat in Israeli prisons for the past five-and-a-half years did not reduce the price Hamas was demanding during the negotiations for Shalit's release. The deal went through because of a substantial change in the regional power structure, not because of any substantial change in the price.

Indeed, the Shalit case raises the urgent need to set a regulation, if not pass a law, that will be obligatory should we face this situation again. What follows is an outline of a "prisoner-exchange bill," complete with explanations.

Introduction: The ethical platform on which this bill rests is the words of the Mishna: "Whoever brings about the loss of one soul, it is as if he has lost an entire world. And anyone who preserves one soul, it is as if he has sustained an entire world" (Sanhedrin 4:5 ).

An army chaplain who supports the approach of former Israel Defense Forces Chief Chaplain Avichai Ronsky, to the effect that "Shalit should have been viewed as dead and not retrievable," will be transferred to the Quartermaster Corps. Israelis have paid the cost of the occupation with their lives before the release of these prisoners, and unfortunately they will continue to pay it as long as the occupation continues.

Section 1: The exchange rate will be determined solely by the circumstances of each incident.

Explanation: What would we do if the chief of general staff's helicopter were forced to make an emergency landing in the center of Gaza. Would we offer Hamas two prisoners "with blood on their hands" (by the way, how would we describe a pilot whose bombing of a residential neighborhood kills dozens of children? ) in exchange for him and the regional commander who was with him? Will the government inform the terrorists that the law does not allow us to release more than 50 "lighter" prisoners? And what would we do if the bastards threaten to kill children if their demands are not met?

Section 2: After the security echelons determine that there is no chance of rescuing the kidnap victim safely, the government will give the negotiating team a period of time, not to exceed two months, to conclude a deal.

Explanation: The Shalit deal proves that bargaining does not assure any significant price reductions that are comparable to the price being paid by the kidnap victim and his family. Footdragging erodes the public's confidence in the political echelon's commitment to the wellbeing of our soldiers, and leads to whatever deal emerges looking like capitulation to public opinion, rather than the result of a rational decision.

Section 3: The prime minister will not take credit for the return of the kidnap victim and will not participate in any reception for him.

Explanation: See the end of Section 2.

Section 4: The heads of the Shin Bet security service will not be asked their opinions "in principle" regarding exchanges like the one for Shalit.

Explanation: Shin Bet heads Yoram Cohen and Ami Ayalon supported such deals, while Avi Dichter and Yuval Diskin opposed them. Who among them was more correct?

Section 5: A minister who supports outposts and opposes negotiations with the Palestinian camp that is working to contain Hamas terror and supports the two-state solution cannot argue that prisoner exchanges "will provide a tailwind to terror and strengthen the Hamas government" (Moshe Ya'alon, during the cabinet debate on the Shalit deal ).

No explanation is necessary.