As the Israeli media hailed the news of Shalit’s release, the head of the Shin Bet security agency, Yoram Cohen, told journalists that although the deal could encourage new attacks and strengthen Hamas at the expense of moderates, it was the minimum price Israel could expect to pay to bring Shalit home.
During his first term in office in the 1990s, Mr. Netanyahu implemented West Bank withdrawals under the Oslo Accords that he had disparaged as a opposition leader, and even shook hands with long-time Palestinian guerrilla fighter Yasser Arafat, who had abandoned violent rhetoric and began seeking a peace deal with Israel. At the beginning of his second term as prime minister in 2009, Netanyahu broke with the ideological hard-liners in his decision to support the creation of a Palestinian state and back a moratorium on new settlement houses in the West Bank.
But in the past year, that trait has been obscured by his decision to renew settlement building, a move which focused blame on him for the breakdown of peace talks. More recently, he was criticized for hurting Israel’s strategic position by refusing to apologize to Turkey for a naval raid that killed nine Turkish activists on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla last year.