There is probably no house in Gaza that has not felt the price of the kidnapping. Since Shalit was abducted, more than 2,000 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed and thousands more injured; more than 10,000 homes have been destroyed; and the border crossings into Gaza have been closed.
Nevertheless, Hamas is not budging. It continues to demand all 450 of the prisoners on its list, including the planners of major suicide bombings since 1993.
The Haaretz article suggests that the reason that Hamas has not compromised in its demands is that it has worked itself into a corner:
After the kidnapping, Hamas promised to obtain the release of masses of prisoners, and before Operation Cast Lead last December, it promised to get the border crossings reopened. But so far, it has yet to do either. Thus a compromise on Shalit might appear as a surrender to Israel.Netanyahu, for his part, has kept this issue from becoming the kind of public story that it was during Olmert's term--perhaps because it seems unlikely that there is any way to obtain Gilad Shalit's release without releasing terrorists.
At least Netanyahu did not make a major issue of this during his campaign.
The same cannot be said of Obama.
During his before the Knesset last year, Bush said:
Some seem to believe we should negotiate with terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along. We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: "Lord, if only I could have talked to Hitler, all of this might have been avoided." We have an obligation to call this what it is – the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history.At the time, Obama claimed that Bush was directing his comments to him and responded:
It is sad that President Bush would use a speech to the Knesset on the 6Oth anniversary of Israel's independence to launch a false political attack.In point of fact, Obama has not only engaged with terrorists--he has released terrorists.
...George Bush knows that I have never supported engagement with terrorists, and the president's extraordinary politicization of foreign policy and the politics of fear do nothing to secure the American people or our stalwart ally, Israel. [emphasis added]
Andy McCarthy writes:
The story of this deal with the devil traces back to May 31, 2007. At the Iraqi finance ministry in Baghdad that day, the Asaib al-Haq network kidnapped five British civilians: an information-technology expert named Peter Moore and his four contract bodyguards. The civilians pleaded for the British government to engineer their safe return. British, American, and Iraqi forces were unsuccessful in numerous rescue attempts.However, as terrorists tend to do, they changed their demands after Qazali was released. They did, however, release 2 of the hostages--in a way sadly reminiscent of the release of Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser:
Asaib al-Haq operatives told Iraqi-government officials that they would release the Brits in exchange for the Qazali brothers and Daqduq. The Bush administration refused. The Times of London has reported that the Americans gave the British request respectful consideration but declined to approve it absent an Iraqi commitment to prosecute the terrorists. The Iraqis refused. Mohammad al-Sa’ady, an adviser to Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki, rationalized the decision to take no action against the murderers of Americans who died fighting for Iraqis this way: “We pointed out that Qais Qazali has a problem with the Americans. He doesn’t have a problem with us. He is not wanted for crimes against Iraqis.”
By contrast, President Obama was persuaded to free Laith Qazali outright, just as Obama previously had authorized the outright release to Britain of the al-Qaeda terrorist Binyam Mohammed [link], who had plotted with “dirty bomber” José Padilla to commit post-9/11 mass-murder attacks in American cities. And although the administration has attempted to pass off Laith Qazali’s release as a necessary compromise of American national interests for the purportedly greater good of Iraqi reconciliation, the camouflage is thin indeed. Transparently, the terrorist has been freed as a quid pro quo for the release of British hostages.
The terrorists did, however, release two of their British hostages, or, to be precise, their corpses: Jason Creswell of Glasgow and Jason Swindlehurst of Lancashire had been dead for weeks, perhaps longer, when their remains were turned over to the British embassy in Iraq.Like Israel, the US used to have a policy of not dealing with terrorists; like Israel, the US has now changed that policy. The arguments against such a policy are familiar--as are the results, as events in Israel testify.
One can sympathize with the kind of decision that Obama made and the considerations that went into deciding what to do. Yet, by making a public display of what he promised he would never consider, Obama set himself for extra criticism--aside from the dangers in setting terrorists free.
Perhaps that is the difference between a seasoned politician like Netanayahu and a merely clever one like Obama.