Nasrallah reportedly rejects swap terms (JERUSALEM POST) By DAVID RUDGE 11/18/03)
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The government is adopting a wait-and-see approach to reports that
Hizbullah has rejected the terms of a proposed prisoner swap that
were narrowly approved by the cabinet last week.
The Lebanese daily Al-Mustaqbal reported on Monday that German
mediators had met with Hizbullah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah and
other senior officials and informed them of Israel´s decision.
It said Nasrallah rejected the proposals because the list of some 400
Lebanese, Palestinians, Jordanians, Syrians, and others to be
released did not include Samir Kuntar.
Israel has stated it will not free those with blood on their hands
such as Kuntar, a Lebanese Druse who headed a Palestinian terrorist
squad that infiltrated Nahariya in 1979 and was responsible for the
deaths of Danny Hanan, his two daughters Einat, four, and Yael, two,
and policeman Eliahu Shahar.
Afterward, however, there were reports that negotiations would
continue in an effort to resolve "outstanding issues." According to
these reports, apparently based on a statement issued by Nasrallah,
Hizbullah and the mediators agreed to keep the negotiations secret at
this stage and thereby increase prospects of reaching a successful
Even the negative report in Al-Mustaqbal, which is owned by Lebanese
Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, said that Hizbullah had not entirely
rejected Israel´s conditions.
Under the proposed terms, Hizbullah would return businessman Elhanan
Tannenbaum, who was abducted while on a trip abroad in October 2000,
and the bodies of St.-Sgts. Benny Avraham, Omar Sawayid, and Adi
Avitan, who were kidnapped shortly before in an Hizbullah ambush in
the Mount Dov region.
IAF navigator Lt.-Col. Ron Arad, who has been missing since ejecting
from his plane over Lebanon in October 1986, is excluded from the
proposed deal. His family is trying to prevent the release of Mustafa
Dirani, who, as Amal security chief, allegedly tortured Arad before
selling him to Iran.
There was no official response to the various reports from Lebanon,
although government sources noted that it was important to hear
directly from the German mediator This did not stop some politicians
from speaking out, with Justice Minister Yosef Lapid and Education
Minister Limor Livnat, both being quoted by Army Radio as saying that
Israel would never agree to the release of Kuntar or bow to Hizbullah
(© 1995-2003, The Jerusalem Post 11/18/03)
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