“A leader stands alone”
Benjamin Netanyahu was presenting himself as a solitary, heroic figure.
“I considered, and I decided.”
Speaking on the release of Gilad Shalit, the Israeli prime minister implied the prisoner swap deal had been entirely of his own making, and that his tough stance had prevailed.
“Talks took place in Cairo … we stood our ground. When the majority of our demands were accepted, I had to make a decision.”
It made for a great narrative, and an effective presentation, but was it true? Did Hamas finally give in to Netanyahu’s demands?
Gershon Baskin provided some interesting perspective when he spoke to us on Tuesday. He is the CEO and founder of the Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information (IPCRI), and according to Ha’aretz, a man who has been instrumental in the Shalit negotiations right from the start.
But what he told me contradicted not only Netanyahu’s claims, but also Ha’aretz’s claim that:
[in July] Ahmed Ja’abari, the head of the Hamas military wing, signalled to Israel for the first time the organisation’s willingness to demonstrate significant flexibility in its position.
Gershon told me that not only had Hamas been waiting for five years for Israel to get serious, the deal that Netanyahu struck was one that’s been on the table all along.