Printer Friendly

Families of captured Israeli soldiers told of pending prisoner swap - report.

Byline: Daily Star Staff

Summary: Relatives of one of two Israeli soldiers captured by Hizbullah fighters in 2006 said on Monday they had been told by an Israeli negotiator that a German-mediated prisoner swap was coming together. "We had a meeting with [envoy] Ofer Dekel and he briefed us, not on the details, but he told us in general terms that there is about to be a deal," Zvi Regev.

Relatives of one of two Israeli soldiers captured by Hizbullah fighters in 2006 said on Monday they had been told by an Israeli negotiator that a German-mediated prisoner swap was coming together. "We had a meeting with [envoy] Ofer Dekel and he briefed us, not on the details, but he told us in general terms that there is about to be a deal," Zvi Regev, father of Eldad Regev, told Israel Radio.

He said the meeting with Dekel was two weeks ago.

But Regev's brother Benny later cautioned against expecting the imminent return of Eldad or fellow captive Ehud Goldwasser. "My father was not being accurate," he told Reuters. "We understand that we are in the direction of a deal. That's not to say it is a deal right now."

Regev said the Goldwassers had also been briefed by Dekel.

Israel waged a 34-day war in Lebanon after the two army reservists were seized in a Hizbullah ambush, but then entered indirect talks on retrieving them, albeit clouded by doubts over whether they were alive.

Israel recently told Hizbullah via German mediators it would be willing to free jailed Lebanese fighters in exchange for the two soldiers.

Topping the proposed release roster is Samir Kontar, who is serving a life sentence for a deadly 1979 raid and whom Israeli officials previously described as a "bargaining chip" for the return of a missing Israeli airman.

Kontar's lawyer, Elias Sabbagh, told Army Radio on Monday that "all the signs and indications are that a deal is coming together," but cautioned he had not heard anything official.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's spokesman, Mark Regev, said of a possible swap: "I cannot confirm it."

Israel has yet to inform the family of the dead in Kontar's raid of an impending release, which is typically done in such cases, a family member said.

Meanwhile, Lebanese officials reported of a significant turnaround in the US position regarding the Shebaa Farms and said that the Bush administration is now in favor of Israel's withdrawal from area adjacent to the Golan Heights in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 1701, the London-baseda newspaper Al-Hayat reported on Monday.

Sources in Lebanon were quoted by Al-Hayat as saying that Israel's possible withdrawal from the Shebaa Farms area, which was occupied by Israeli forces during the 1967 war, was one of the focal points during recent meetings US President George W. Bush held in Europe.

The sources said Washington was more understanding of Lebanon's position on the issue, which is supported by the Arab League, the EU and UN chief Ban Ki-moon, and did not rule out the possibility that the US would press Israel to withdraw from the Shebaa Farms.

Al-Hayat quoted other Lebanese officials as saying they were pleased with the recent diplomatic developments on the issue, which, according to them, indicated the possibility that the disputed region would be transferred to the supervision of UN peacekeepers.

Recent reports said that British Foreign Minister David Miliband and French President Nicolas Sarkozy predicted that the Shebaa Farms dispute would soon be resolved.

Last week the Lebanese government issued a statement saying it would not negotiate with Israel until the Jewish state withdraws from the Shebaa Farms. - Reuters, with The Daily Star

Copyright A[umlaut] 2008, The Daily Star. All rights reserved.

Provided by Syndigate.info an Albawaba.com company
COPYRIGHT 2008 Al Bawaba (Middle East) Ltd.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2008 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Publication:The Daily Star (Beirut, Lebanon)
Date:Jun 17, 2008
Words:630
Previous Article:Old ties exist between Iran and Lebanon's Shiites.
Next Article:Israeli blockade of Gaza Strip throttles livelihoods of Palestinian fishermen.
Topics:

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2021 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters |