Geneva Initiative Annexes
Geneva Initiative Annexes


Geneva Initiative Position Paper: How to Overcome the Prisoner Dilemma

Geneva Initiative Position Paper: How to Overcome the Prisoner Dilemma
Date: 26.04.07
Expanding the scope of agreements and turning the deal to free Gilad Shalit in return for Palestinian prisoners into one of the articles in a wider agreement.


The Geneva Initiative's position on the materializing deal for the release of Gilad Shalit is as follows:


  1. Freeing Gilad Shalit is a leading Israeli concern, and the government must work to secure this release. Nevertheless, Israel can leverage the release deal so that it does not only include Shalit's homecoming in return for the release of Palestinian prisoners.
  2. Israel must arrive at an agreement that can include wider understandings with the Palestinian Authority and that will advance additional Israeli interests.
  3. Changing the nature of the agreement can preclude it from appearing as strengthening Shalit's Hamas-affiliated captors, and cause it to appear as strengthening Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian unity government.


Ten months have passed since Gilad Shalit was kidnapped on June 25th, 2006 and the government's announcement (on July 3rd, 2007) that "there will be no negotiations on the release of prisoners. The Palestinian Authority carries the full weight of responsibility for Gilad Shalit's well-being and for his return to Israel safe and sound." The negotiations currently underway to free Shalit are harming Israel's credibility and political interests: a. Contradictory to its stated position, Israel is negotiating to release prisoners. b. By regarding the Palestinian Authority as responsible for the kidnapping, Israel is actually strengthening Hamas and radical bodies within the PA, as the materializing agreement will be seen by Palestinians as another success for the policy of force and terror.


Israel must work to release Gilad Shalit, even if the deal to free him includes 'only' a prisoner exchange. Even so, Israel can widen the scope of the deal to include other vital components, including those discussed in the Olmert-Abbas meeting two weeks ago: stabilizing the Gaza Strip ceasefire and widening it to include the West Bank; building-up Presidential Guard presence at the Philadelphi Route; releasing Palestinian funds; preventing arms-smuggling and the firing of Qassams at Israel; expediting the process of removing West Bank roadblocks, etc.


Formulating a wider agreement, in which the prisoners issue will be one article of many, will have two desirable effects:


  1. On the theoretical level, the agreement could be presented as one in which Israel did not "fold" on the issue of prisoners, but rather accomplished political goals in cooperation with Abbas and the entire Palestinian Authority (not only the kidnappers).
  2. On the essential level, the agreement will include other disputed factors and will not only deal with past events but also make a constructive contribution for the future.