A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman
October 25, 2011- Prisoner Exchange With Egypt, Tunisian Election Results
A much less problematic prisoner exchange was announced today. This latest exchange is a deal is for the return of Ilan Grappel, the American-born Israeli who has been held in Egypt for the past four months, after being charged with spying for Israel. The deal calls for the return of 25 Egyptian prisoners, most of them drug smugglers, in return for Grappel. The fact that the deal has gone forward is a good sign, at least for the moment. At least Israel has reasonable working ties with the Egyptian military. The Egyptians seem to be interested in receiving back their prisoners. In addition, this is a good will gesture to the Sinai bedouins.
The election results are back from Tunisia and they are troubling. A "moderate" Islamic party has won the elections. The reason for concern is that Tunisia has never been considered a state with strong Islamic tendencies. Furthermore, if the Islamist have come to power in a country like Tunisia, what can we expect from Egypt, or, for that matter, the newly freed Libya. Is there a "moderate" political Islam? Much of the future of the Middle East is going to be determined by the answer to that questions.
Now that Gilad Shalit has been home for a week relaxing with his family, the hard questions and criticism have begun to be discussed- Not the questions regarding the danger of releasing terrorists, but rather, the question of what effect the Shalit deal will have toward strengthening Hamas and the rest of the rejectionist front. For those who believe there is no possible partner for peace, even among moderate Palestinians, then strengthening the extremist elements suits them. For those who believe there is a chance for reaching an accommodation between parties, then this deal could be a disaster in the long run.