Israeli Cabinet Approves Prisoner Swap

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CBNNews.com - JERUSALEM, Israel - The Israeli Cabinet approved a prisoner exchange with Lebanese-based Hezbollah terrorists by a vote of 22 to 3.

The three ministers who voted against the deal were Housing and Construction Minister Ze'ev Boim, Finance Minister Roni Bar-On and Justice Minister Daniel Friedman.

Under the swap, Israel will free four Hezbollah prisoners, including Samir Kuntar -- serving four life sentences for the murder of the Haran family in 1979 -- and the remains of 10 Hezbollah terrorists in exchange for Israel Defense Forces (IDF) reservists Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev.

Kuntar smothered the Haran family's two-year-old child, shot the father, Danny, in front of his four-year-old daughter and then killed her by smashing her skull with his rifle butt against a rock. Two Israeli policeman were also killed in the attack.

At Sunday's Cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert stated for the first time that he believes the two IDF reservists, kidnapped by Hezbollah in a cross-border attack on July 12, 2006, are dead.

In a prepared press release, Olmert said, "Evidence suggests they died in the raid in which they were captured or shortly after."

Israel's Mossad intelligence agency and the Shin Bet (General Security Agency) opposed the prisoner swap, warning that exchanging Kuntar and five other Hezbollah terrorists for the remains of the two Israeli reservists will spur more kidnappings.

Meanwhile, a prisoner exchange for IDF Corporal Gilad Shalit, being held by the Gaza-based Hamas terror organization, has yet to reach a conclusion.

On Thursday, Israeli representative Ofer Dekel met with Egyptian Intelligence chief Omar Suleiman in Cairo to press for Shalit's release.

Sources: The Associated Press, Haaretz, YNet news

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