We all long to see Cpl. Gilad Shalit reunited with his family. But it is difficult to see how the wildly asymmetrical deal Israel is reportedly considering, in which 800 Palestinian terrorists currently held in Israeli prisons would be released, is either morally tenable or wise.
Israelis have already had several occasions to regret such lopsided exchanges. Of the thousands of security detainees and terrorists released over the past 20 years in exchange for soldiers and in political gestures, hundreds have returned to terror activity.
Put simply, releasing security prisoners has, in numerous cases, created a clear and present danger to Israeli lives. There are similar problems concerning the negotiations that are reportedly underway with Hizballah over the return of reservists Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser.
Israel has a huge moral commitment to its kidnapped soldiers – to do all it can to bring them home. But it also has a moral commitment to those soldiers’ comrades to reduce, not increase, the risk of them being kidnapped in the first place.
The price that our enemies are asking for our soldiers – a price that essentially amounts to more terror and more kidnappings – is one Israel cannot afford to pay.