Israel and Egypt begin preparations for prisoner swap

Israel and Egypt begin preparations for prisoner swap Despite increased tensions between Israel and Egypt since the uprisings that led to the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak, the two have negotiated a prisoner swap that will take place today. Egypt will free U.S. Israeli Ilan Grapel who was accused of spying for Israel’s Mossad during Egypt’s ...

548044_111027_1303874682.jpg
548044_111027_1303874682.jpg

Israel and Egypt begin preparations for prisoner swap

Despite increased tensions between Israel and Egypt since the uprisings that led to the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak, the two have negotiated a prisoner swap that will take place today. Egypt will free U.S. Israeli Ilan Grapel who was accused of spying for Israel's Mossad during Egypt's uprisings. Israel and Grapel's family maintain that he is a law student who was volunteering for the non-governmental organization Saint Andrew's Refugee Services in Cairo. Grapel had immigrated for the United States to Israel in 2005 and served in the Israeli Defense Forces. Israel is releasing 25 Bedouins from Sinai, three of whom are minors. The prisoners were held predominantly on smuggling and border crossing charges, and none had been arrested for a security related infraction. The Egyptians have been moved to a staging prison and will be transferred from the Taba border crossing near the Israeli city of Eilat. At the same time, Grapel will fly to Tel Aviv to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and then fly to New York. This deal, brokered by the United States, came less than a week after Egypt mediated the exchange of Israeli Gilad Shalit for over a thousand Palestinian prisoners. The recent diplomatic acts suggest that regardless of the fall of Mubarak, who had been criticized for yielding to Israel, the two countries can still maintain a business relationship.

Headlines  

Israel and Egypt begin preparations for prisoner swap

Despite increased tensions between Israel and Egypt since the uprisings that led to the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak, the two have negotiated a prisoner swap that will take place today. Egypt will free U.S. Israeli Ilan Grapel who was accused of spying for Israel’s Mossad during Egypt’s uprisings. Israel and Grapel’s family maintain that he is a law student who was volunteering for the non-governmental organization Saint Andrew’s Refugee Services in Cairo. Grapel had immigrated for the United States to Israel in 2005 and served in the Israeli Defense Forces. Israel is releasing 25 Bedouins from Sinai, three of whom are minors. The prisoners were held predominantly on smuggling and border crossing charges, and none had been arrested for a security related infraction. The Egyptians have been moved to a staging prison and will be transferred from the Taba border crossing near the Israeli city of Eilat. At the same time, Grapel will fly to Tel Aviv to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and then fly to New York. This deal, brokered by the United States, came less than a week after Egypt mediated the exchange of Israeli Gilad Shalit for over a thousand Palestinian prisoners. The recent diplomatic acts suggest that regardless of the fall of Mubarak, who had been criticized for yielding to Israel, the two countries can still maintain a business relationship.

Headlines  

  • Tunisia’s election results that are expected to confirm Ennahda’s lead for seats in the constituent assembly have been delayed until Thursday due to technical issues.
  • There was no major breakthrough in ending Syrian violence in a meeting between the Arab League and President Bashar al Assad meanwhile 17 more people were killed.
  • The U.N. will vote on a Russian draft resolution today to end NATO’s Libya mission by the end of October despite a TNC request for an extension.
  • Foreign assistance for earthquake relief has begun to arrive in Turkey as the death toll has risen over 500 and 1,650 have been injured.
  • Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will meet with Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal in efforts to restart talks for a unified government that stalled in May.

 

Daily Snapshot

Yemeni veiled women burn veils in a symbolic and traditional move in Sanaa on October 26, 2011 to protest the regime’s crackdown on female protesters. At least 19 Yemeni civilians, government troops and dissident soldiers were killed in continuing violence in the wake of President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s most recent pledge to resign (MARWAN NAAMANI/AFP/Getty Images).

Arguments & Analysis 

‘Of Tunisia and Egypt’ (Ursula Lindsey, The Arabist)

“The disastrous way in which the Egyptian elections are being conducted is not just a matter of mismanagement (although there is plenty of that too) — it is a matter of making democracy as dangerous and confusing as possible. It a purposeful politics of chaos. In Tunisia democratic and opposition forces from across the political spectrum managed to form a consensus about what the transition process should be — and even now, after competitive and at times acrimonious campaigning, that consensus largely holds. Here in Egypt, everyone is competing — from the Muslim Brotherhood to the liberal and progressive parties — in the hopes of securing some influence over the transition period. But the new parliament will have little power as long as SCAF rules the country. I fear that they will simply be legitimizing election-laced autocracy.”

‘Syria slips towards sectarian war’ (Robert Fisk, The Independent)

“Of course, the Assad government had been warning of a sectarian war. Of course, the Assad government has set itself up as the only sure protector of minorities. Of course, the Assad government had claimed that Islamists and “terrorists” were behind the street opposition to the regime. It’s also clear that the brutality of the Syrian security forces in Deraa and Homs and other cities against unarmed protesters has been a scandal, which those in the government privately acknowledge. But it’s also transparent that the struggle in Syria now cuts through the centre of the country and that many armed men now oppose the army. Indeed, I have been told that Homs slips — for hours at a time — out of government control. Damascenes travelling to the northern city of Aleppo can take the bus. But now more than ever, they are flying to avoid the dangerous road between Hama and Aleppo. These are the reasons, I suspect, why so many thousands came to demonstrate in Damascus yesterday. They are frightened.”

‘Israel’s bunker mentality’ (Ronald R. Krebs, Foreign Affairs)

“By inducing a bunker mentality among Israelis, the occupation has bred an aggressive ethnic nationalism that privileges the interests of Israel’s Jewish citizens over those of its Arab citizens, who have come to feel that they will never be treated fairly in an Israel defined as a Jewish state. At the same time, by paralyzing the Israeli political system, it has strengthened ultra-Orthodox political parties, which have exploited divisions between the right and the left to become kingmakers. In exchange for their parliamentary support, they have demanded economic subsidies for their constituents, who often devote their lives to studying Jewish texts rather than participating in the work force. Educated, largely secular elites, frustrated by low pay and high taxes, have, until recently, been emigrating in substantial numbers, and the long-term prospects for reversing this brain drain are poor as long as the occupation continues. These are the real threats to Israel’s founders’ vision of a democratic, Jewish, and prosperous state.”

Latest Middle East Channel posts

‘Controlling Libya’s weapons’ by Omar Ashour

‘Egypt and Israel after the Shalit deal’ by Janine Zacharia

‘The day after Tunisia’s elections’ by Erik Churchill

‘Shalit deal presents Israel with opportunity in Gaza’ by Sari Bashi

‘Fragile hopes for Jordan’s prime minister’ by Christina Satkowski

<p>Mary Casey-Baker is the editor of Foreign Policy’s Middle East Daily Brief, as well as the assistant director of public affairs at the Project on Middle East Political Science and assistant editor of The Monkey Cage blog for the Washington Post. </p> Twitter: @casey_mary

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