|Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu|
|Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev|
People who have spoken to Netanyahu in the past two days, while he was at his home in Caesarea, found him to be very relaxed. He is at peace with himself. This was the hardest decision he has had to make since reassuming the prime minister's post in 2009.
Just four hours before Tuesday's cabinet meeting, he wasn't convinced he had a majority for the deal. In retrospect, in light of the 26 to 3 vote in favor, that seems a little odd, but uncertainty prevailed in the Prime Minister's Office as evening approached. It appeared that around half of the Likud cabinet ministers would oppose the deal, in addition to all of the Yisrael Beiteinu ministers and one from Habayit Hayehudi, bringing the vote to a near draw. Ehud Barak, who had supported a deal from the moment he was appointed defense minister, assured Netanyahu that from the minute a prime minister decides to go ahead with such a move with full force and moral authority he will get approval even for decisions the right wing finds hard to digest. Barak was talking about Shalit, but he was probably also referring to future decisions that are late in coming, such as the resumption of negotiations with the Palestinians.
Barak faced a similar situation near the end of the Olmert government, and he has not a shadow of a doubt, when considering the record of Olmert and Netanyahu, who demonstrated leadership and courage and who got cold feet. In private conversations, Barak has said it is Netanyahu who has shown leadership. And without engaging in speculation about the psychological dynamic between them, perhaps Barak's presence helped Netanyahu to decide.
I personally think Netanyahu got beat on this deal? Israel doesn't need to conduct negotiations for captives. The army is permitted to go to war to save even just one person.
Differing opinions have been voiced by a number of leading rabbis regarding the exchange deal for Gilad Schalit.
|Rabbi Benny Lau|
The influential Rabbi Benny Lau of the Ramban Synagogue in Jerusalem’s Greek Colony argued in favor of the deal on Wednesday, saying that the changing geopolitical situation of the Middle East meant that the circumstances of Schalit’s captivity were such that his life was in certain danger.