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With Gilad Shalit prisoner swap done, Israelis and Palestinians debate its impact

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On the face of it, the exchange is preposterous, in some ways, borderline suicidal. … The deal to bring Gilad Shalit back to his family is painful to Israelis bereaved by terror. It is, by any measure, chillingly dangerous.

And it was the right thing to do.

The deal is a remnant of an Israel which is fast disappearing. It is a remnant of a particular brand of quiet, exceptional courage. It is an expression of a national character that goes generally ignored in a media environment which prizes the extreme over the honorable. It is evidence of a people true to values which time and sectarian agendas may appear to have diluted and erased.

The deal for Gilad Shalit is a remnant of a promised land that – to those everyday people who donate their very youth, their very lives, in order to defend it – still believes it important to keep its promises.

Awareness that the deal is "chillingly dangerous" is articulated many times over in the Israeli media. In a column for the right-leaning Jerusalem Post, Isi Liebler writes that typically tough Israel has once again revealed its "Achilles' heel" and emboldened voices for extremism – and that the practice of releasing hundreds or thousands of Palestinians in exchange for a handful of Israelis is admirable, but unsustainable.

In such an environment the government must gird itself for the future. We must never again permit the deliverance of one Israeli – either soldier or citizen – to jeopardize our national security.

We must recognize that the concept that “we must pay any price” is unsustainable. A state under siege must not allow itself to be subjected to blackmail and extortion by terrorists.

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