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Israel Rejects Swapping Prisoners Unless Its Soldiers Are Included

August 8, 1989
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Israeli officials remained firm Monday in rejecting deals and threats offered by Shiite Moslem leaders in Lebanon for the exchange of hostages for prisoners.

Likud Cabinet Minister Ehud Olmert said the government would not be drawn into “vague statements, frequently contradictory, by various people and groups, to the media.”

He was referring to separate deals offered Sunday by terrorist groups in exchange for the release of Sheikh Abdul Karim Obeid, the Shiite extremist leader Israeli commandos captured July 28.

One terrorist leader, Hussein Mousawi of the Islamic Amal group, told foreign correspondents Sunday that his group would kill one of three Israeli soldiers held in Lebanon if Obeid, a leader of the pro-Iranian Hezbollah, or Party of God, was not immediately released.

“If we find out that the interests of Islam and the Moslems, and the interests of the oppressed, dictate that one of the Israelis be killed, so will it be,” said Mousawi, whose group is also affiliated with Hezbollah.

“If the conflict reaches that stage, this decision will be taken,” he said.

Another Hezbollah group, the Revolutionary Justice Organization, said it would release U.S. hostage Joseph Cicippio, in exchange for Obeid and 150 Lebanese Shiites and 300 Palestinians held by Israel.

The group made no mention of the three Israeli prisoners.


But Olmert threw cold water on that offer, saying Israel would not entertain the release of either Obeid or any other prisoners unless all three Israelis were included in the exchange.

The Israelis have offered to release Obeid and a limited number of Arab prisoners only if the three Israelis and Western hostages held by Hezbollah factions are let go.

Israel, in fact, has had no word on whether the soldiers, captured as long as three years ago, are still alive.

Within Israel, meanwhile, the right-wing Tehiya and Tsomet parties are seeking to make political capital out of the hostage affair.

Geula Cohen of Tehiya is demanding that Israel reject any negotiations with Hezbollah or any other Arab organization, put Obeid on trial and exclude him from any prisoner exchange.

“He deserves more than a single death sentence for what we know he is guilty of,” she said.

Cohen also demanded implementation of the death penalty for all Arabs accused of capital crimes. She said they should be excluded from any exchange deal.

Eliahu Ben-Elissar of Likud, chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, rejected Cohen’s call for a special session of the committee to discuss the issue, on the grounds that the committee was adequately briefed by senior Israeli military officers.

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